[pahr-thee-uh n]


a native or inhabitant of Parthia.
an Iranian language of ancient and medieval Parthia.


of, relating to, or characteristic of Parthia, its inhabitants, or their language.

Origin of Parthian

First recorded in 1520–30; Parthi(a) + -an Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for parthian

Historical Examples of parthian

  • The Parthian shot was delivered actually on the way to Mabel's embrace.

    Love and Lucy

    Maurice Henry Hewlett

  • Myra delivered this Parthian shaft over her shoulder as she walked off.

    Shining Ferry

    Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch

  • Two of these were Nubians, one a Parthian, the other a Spaniard.

    For the Temple

    G. A. Henty

  • He wants to go to the Parthian war, but he has not money to support him.

    The Life of Cicero

    Anthony Trollope

  • That was her way of replying to the Parthian arrow; but the barb was poisoned.

British Dictionary definitions for parthian



of or relating to Parthia, a country in ancient Asia, or its inhabitants


a native or inhabitant of Parthia
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for parthian



1520s, native or inhabitant of Parthia (ancient kingdom northeast of Persia in western Asia), from Old Persian Parthava- "Parthian," dialectal variant of the stem Parsa-, source of Persia.

As an adjective, 1580s. Phrase Parthian shot is in reference to their horsemen, who were expert at racing forward, turning, and shooting arrows backward at the moment of retreat. The exact phrase is attested by 1832; the image itself was in use long before (e.g. Parthian fight, 1630s).

Or, like the Parthian, I shall flying fight ["Cymbeline," Act I, Scene VII]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper