A long-beaked bird that lives in marshes and swamps is called a snipe. As a verb, to snipe is to attack someone in a snide way — something a snipe would never do, because birds aren't that petty.

You can find the well-camouflaged shorebird known as the snipe just about everywhere in the world. These birds are famously difficult for hunters to shoot, as they blend in well with their surroundings and have an erratic flight pattern. This is where the word sniper, or sharpshooter, comes from, in addition to the definition of snipe that means "shoot from a hiding place." The figurative sense of "attack someone verbally" followed.

Definitions of snipe

n Old or New World straight-billed game bird of the sandpiper family; of marshy areas; similar to the woodcocks

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Gallinago gallinago, whole snipe
common snipe of Eurasia and Africa
Gallinago gallinago delicata, Wilson's snipe
American snipe
Gallinago media, great snipe, woodcock snipe
Old World snipe larger and darker than the whole snipe
Limnocryptes minima, half snipe, jacksnipe
a small short-billed Old World snipe
shorebird of the sandpiper family that resembles a snipe
Limnodromus griseus, grayback, greyback
a dowitcher with a grey back
Limnodromus scolopaceus, red-breasted snipe
a dowitcher with a red breast
Type of:
limicoline bird, shore bird, shorebird
any of numerous wading birds that frequent mostly seashores and estuaries

n a gunshot from a concealed location

Type of:
gunfire, gunshot
the act of shooting a gun

v hunt or shoot snipe

Type of:
hunt, hunt down, run, track down
pursue for food or sport (as of wild animals)

v aim and shoot with great precision

Type of:
blast, shoot
fire a shot

v attack in speech or writing

assail, assault, attack, lash out, round
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abuse, blackguard, clapperclaw, shout
use foul or abusive language towards
attack as if with claws
subject to bitter verbal abuse
criticize or abuse strongly and violently
attack forcefully
barrage, bombard
address with continuously or persistently, as if with a barrage
blister, scald, whip
subject to harsh criticism
attack strongly
abuse with coarse language
rail, revile, vilify, vituperate
spread negative information about
heap obscenities upon
Type of:
criticise, criticize, knock, pick apart
find fault with; express criticism of; point out real or perceived flaws

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