Shooting a gun at a very easy target without warning is taking a potshot. And if you meanly and randomly criticize someone, that's another kind of potshot.

An overly easy criticism that's not well thought out is a common type of verbal potshot: "Your review was just a bunch of potshots at terrible movies!" This type of potshot comes from the gun-related version, first recorded around 1836. A potshot (or pot-shot) was a shot at an animal meant to "get it in the pot," or kill it strictly for food, rather than for the sport of hunting — the implication being that sport shooting required more skill.

Definitions of potshot

n a shot taken at an easy or casual target (as by a pothunter)

Type of:
shooting, shot
the act of firing a projectile

n criticism aimed at an easy target and made without careful consideration

“reporters took potshots at the mayor”
Type of:
criticism, unfavorable judgment
disapproval expressed by pointing out faults or shortcomings

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