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
  1. noun
    Old or New World straight-billed game bird of the sandpiper family; of marshy areas; similar to the woodcocks
    see moresee less
    show 7 types...
    hide 7 types...
    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
  2. noun
    a gunshot from a concealed location
    see moresee less
    type of:
    gunfire, gunshot
    the act of shooting a gun
  3. verb
    hunt or shoot snipe
    see moresee less
    type of:
    hunt, hunt down, run, track down
    pursue for food or sport (as of wild animals)
  4. verb
    aim and shoot with great precision
    synonyms: sharpshoot
    see moresee less
    type of:
    blast, shoot
    fire a shot
  5. verb
    attack in speech or writing
    synonyms: assail, assault, attack, lash out, round
    see moresee less
    show 11 types...
    hide 11 types...
    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
Word Family
F1 image

Express yourself in 25 languages

  • Learn immersively - no memorization required
  • Build skills for real-world conversations
  • Get immediate feedback on your pronunciation
Get started for $7.99/month