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A Wilson’s snipe (limicoline bird), Gallinago delicata.


Middle English "type of bird", from Old Norse -snipa, in myrisnipa (moor snipe)

The verb originated in the 1770s among soldiers in British India where a hunter skilled enough to kill the elusive snipe was dubbed a "sniper".[1] The term sniper was first attested in 1824 in the sense of the word "sharpshooter".[1]



snipe (plural snipe or snipes)

  1. Any of various limicoline game birds of the genera Gallinago, Lymnocryptes and Coenocorypha in the family Scolopacidae, having a long, slender, nearly straight beak.
  2. A fool; a blockhead.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
  3. A shot fired from a concealed place.
  4. (slang) A cigarette butt.
  5. (naval slang) A member of the engineering department on a ship.
  6. A bottle of wine measuring 0.1875 liters, one fourth the volume of a standard bottle; a quarter bottle or piccolo.
  7. An animated promotional logo during a television show.
  8. A strip of copy announcing some late breaking news or item of interest, typically placed in a print advertisement in such a way that it stands out from the ad.

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snipe (third-person singular simple present snipes, present participle sniping, simple past and past participle sniped)

  1. To shoot at individuals from a concealed place.
  2. (by extension) To shoot with a sniper rifle.
  3. To make malicious, underhand remarks or attacks.
    • 2013 May 23, Sarah Lyall, "British Leader’s Liberal Turn Sets Off a Rebellion in His Party," New York Times (retrieved 29 May 2013):
      Capitalizing on the restive mood, Mr. Farage, the U.K. Independence Party leader, took out an advertisement in The Daily Telegraph this week inviting unhappy Tories to defect. In it Mr. Farage sniped that the Cameron government — made up disproportionately of career politicians who graduated from Eton and Oxbridge — was “run by a bunch of college kids, none of whom have ever had a proper job in their lives.”
  4. To watch a timed online auction and place a winning bid at the last possible moment.

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  1. 1.0 1.1 "Snipe", Online Etymology Dictionary. URL accessed on 2011-04-01.