Shoot the Breeze – Idiom, Origin & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Ah, idioms, the sprinkles on top of any language! They can add flavor, nuance and a good dose of local color to any conversation. Today, let’s set our sights on the phrase shoot the breeze. No actual shooting or breezes involved, I promise!

Meaning of Shoot the Breeze

Shoot the Breeze Idiom Origin Meaning

Despite the weird visuals this phrase might inspire, there’s no need for a wind gun or a breezy day. When people shoot the breeze, they’re merely engaging in casual conversation, which is usually about unimportant subjects.

It’s what you do when you’re sitting around, with time to kill, swapping stories and discussing the latest gossip. Don’t mix it up with small talk, either. + is discussing obvious things like the weather, and shooting the breeze is having a casual conversation about anything of interest.

Different Tenses

  • Past tense: Shot the breeze
  • Present tense: Shooting the breeze
  • Future tense: Shoot the breeze

Origin and Etymology of Shooting the Breeze

Shooting the Breeze Ngram
Shooting the breeze usage trend.

This phrase is actually a relatively recent arrival on the language scene. It came about in 20th-century America, and the term breeze was used as a slang term for rumors or gossip. As for the shooting part, well, I’m sure it’s to relate to the idea of shooting the bull or breeze—essentially, talking without any sort of aim or purpose.

Shoot the Breeze Synonyms

The phrase shoot the breeze isn’t the only way to convey the idea of casual conversation. Here are some other idioms and phrases that have the same usage.

  • Chew the fat
  • Talk the hind leg off a donkey
  • Gab
  • Shoot the bull
  • Chatter
  • Yarn

Shoot the Breeze Examples in a Sentence

Shoot the Breeze Idiom Origin Meaning 1

To truly grasp an idiom, it helps to see it in use. So, here’s the phrase shoot the breeze, casually strutting its stuff.

  • After a long shift at work, we usually go to the pub to shoot the breeze and unwind.
  • My best buddy and I sat on the porch, shooting the breeze until the sun went down.
  • I ran into an old friend at the grocery store, and we shot the breeze for a while.
  • Shooting the breeze with her neighbors was part of my mother’s simple daily routine.
  • In the retirement home, my dad enjoyed nothing more than shooting the breeze with his buddies while they sat around the beautiful gardens.
  • Let’s meet for coffee and shoot the breeze!
  • One of my favorite pastimes is to visit my grandmother in the old age home and shoot the breeze about the old days.

Aim for Good Conversations

Now you should have the hang of it, so you’re ready to shoot the breeze with the best of them! Just remember that it’s meant to be a fun, informal phrase that expresses the joy of casual conversation and human connection. 

Understanding idioms like this will only broaden your vocabulary and give you lots of ways to express ideas.