- See under snipe(def 1).
- any of several long-billed game birds of the genera Gallinago (Capella) and Limnocryptes, inhabiting marshy areas, as G. gallinago (common snipe), of Eurasia and North America, having barred and striped white, brown, and black plumage.
- any of several other long-billed birds, as some sandpipers.
- a shot, usually from a hidden position.
- to shoot or hunt snipe.
- to shoot at individuals as opportunity offers from a concealed or distant position: The enemy was sniping from the roofs.
- to attack a person or a person's work with petulant or snide criticism, especially anonymously or from a safe distance.
Origin of snipe
- any of various birds of the genus Gallinago (or Capella) and related genera, such as G. gallinago (common or Wilson's snipe), of marshes and river banks, having a long straight bill: family Scolopacidae (sandpipers, etc), order Charadriiformes
- any of various similar related birds, such as certain sandpipers and curlews
- a shot, esp a gunshot, fired from a place of concealment
- (when intr, often foll by at) to attack (a person or persons) with a rifle from a place of concealment
- (intr often foll by at) to criticize adversely a person or persons from a position of security
- (intr) to hunt or shoot snipe
Word Origin and History for common snipe
long-billed marsh bird, early 14c., from Old Norse -snipa in myrisnipa "moor snipe;" perhaps a common Germanic term (cf. Old Saxon sneppa, Middle Dutch snippe, Dutch snip, Old High German snepfa, German Schnepfe "snipe," Swedish snäppa "sandpiper"), perhaps originally "snipper." The Old English name was snite, which is of uncertain derivation. An opprobrious term (cf. guttersnipe) since c.1600.
"shoot from a hidden place," 1773 (among British soldiers in India), in reference to hunting snipe as game, from snipe (n.). Figurative use from 1892. Related: Sniped; sniping.