1. a shot fired at game merely for food, with little regard to skill or the rules of sport.
  2. a shot at an animal or person within easy range, as from ambush.
  3. a casual or aimless shot.
  4. a random or incidental criticism: to take a potshot at military spending in a speech on taxation.
verb (used without object), pot·shot or pot·shot·ted, pot·shot·ting.
  1. to fire or aim potshots: critics potshotting at the administration.

Origin of potshot

First recorded in 1855–60; pot1 + shot1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for pot shot

pot shot

  1. a chance shot taken casually, hastily, or without careful aim
  2. a shot fired to kill game in disregard of the rules of sport
  3. a shot fired at quarry within easy range, often from an ambush
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 pot shot



also pot-shot, 1836, "shot taken at animal simply to 'get it in the pot,' not for sport or marksmanship;" from pot (n.1) + shot (n.). Extended sense of "opportunistic criticism" first recorded 1926. Cf. pot-hunter "one who shoots whatever he finds; one who kills for food not for sport."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper