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Snipe/Sniper
Posted: 23 January 2015 12:49 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Interesting etymology on the word sniper. I looked it up because of the film, American Sniper, and the controversy of what a sniper actually does, which is that he shoots people from a hidden place.

Snipe(verb.)

“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.
snipe (n.) Look up snipe at Dictionary.com

Snipe(noun.)
long-billed marsh bird, early 14c., from Old Norse -snipa in myrisnipa “moor snipe;” perhaps a common Germanic term (compare Old Saxon sneppa, Middle Dutch snippe, Dutch snip, Old High German snepfa, German Schnepfe “snipe,” Swedish sn├Ąppa “sandpiper"), perhaps originally “snipper.” The Old English name was snite, which is of uncertain derivation. An opprobrious term (see guttersnipe) since c.1600.

Sniper(noun.)

“sharpshooter; one who shoots from a hidden place,” 1824, agent noun from snipe (v.). The birds were considered a challenging target for an expert shooter:
Snipe Shooting is a good trial of the gunner’s skill, who often engages in this diversion, without the assistance of a dog of any kind; a steady pointer, however, is a good companion. ["Sportsman’s Calendar,” London, December 1818]

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Posted: 23 January 2015 02:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The birds were considered a challenging target for an expert shooter

As any Boy Scout can tell you, they’re even more challenging to catch.

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Posted: 24 January 2015 06:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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For those who didn’t catch Doc T’s reference.

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Posted: 25 January 2015 01:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I don’t think ‘snipe hunting’ is current in Rightpondia; at least, I’ve never heard of it. But in Scotland on April I, people ‘hunt the gowk’ (cuckoo) in exactly the same way, and that day is (was? Mass media tend to erase regional usages) known as ‘Huntigowk Day’ rather than April Fools’ Day as elsewhere in the UK.

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Posted: 26 January 2015 07:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I wonder if any of those scouts ever catch a snipe.

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Posted: 26 January 2015 08:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I’m of a mind with Syntinen, the term snipe hunting would puzzle British boy scouts, although of course the practice of the sleeveless errand is universal. I’m sure young trainees are still sent to fetch a left-handed screwdriver.

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Posted: 26 January 2015 09:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The Wilson’s Snipe is not uncommon in Missouri during its fall migration.  Their hunting season coincides with dove season and I used to hunt both species when I was younger.  They are indeed difficult to hit since they fly very erratically.

Incidentally, in U.S. Navy parlance, a “snipe” is an enlisted sailor in the engineering division (an engineman, machinist’s mate, etc).

Edit: added link

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Posted: 26 January 2015 10:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I wonder if any of those scouts ever catch a snipe.

Did you see the movie Up?

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Posted: 26 January 2015 10:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Dr. Techie - 26 January 2015 10:06 AM

I wonder if any of those scouts ever catch a snipe.

Did you see the movie Up?

Yes.

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Posted: 26 January 2015 11:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Dr. Techie - 26 January 2015 10:06 AM

I wonder if any of those scouts ever catch a snipe.

Did you see the movie Up?

Yes.

Good, isn’t it?

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Posted: 26 January 2015 08:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Dr. Techie - 26 January 2015 11:24 AM

Dr. Techie - 26 January 2015 10:06 AM

I wonder if any of those scouts ever catch a snipe.

Did you see the movie Up?

Yes.

Good, isn’t it?

Yes.

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Posted: 12 December 2015 09:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Logophile - 23 January 2015 12:49 PM

Snipe(verb.)

“shoot from a hidden place,” 1773 (among British soldiers in India), in reference to hunting snipe as game, from snipe (n.).

How do we know that it is in reference to hunting snipe as game? What dictionary is this from? It’s not in the OED Online.

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Posted: 12 December 2015 11:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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gooofy - 12 December 2015 09:23 PM

Logophile - 23 January 2015 12:49 PM

Snipe(verb.)

“shoot from a hidden place,” 1773 (among British soldiers in India), in reference to hunting snipe as game, from snipe (n.).

How do we know that it is in reference to hunting snipe as game? What dictionary is this from? It’s not in the OED Online.

Online Etymology Dictionary:

“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.

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Posted: 13 December 2015 03:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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For those like me who didn’t have a clue what Dr T was talking about, here’s a clip.

Does the dictionary have any references to back up its claim?

[ Edited: 13 December 2015 03:16 AM by ElizaD ]
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Posted: 13 December 2015 04:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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The OED has an 1832 citation that seems to back up the claim. From the brief quote in the dictionary itself the context isn’t clear, but it may be about hunting the bird:

1832 Oriental Sporting Mag. May (1882) 2 291/2 They were all found among high cliffs, and we generally sniped at them from a considerable height.

Also from Oriental Sporting Magazine, I found this slightly earlier cite from the April 1829 issue (182) that is clearly about hunting snipes:

It’s bad taste, I allow, but the fact was there was snipe shooting on the road, and as there was no time for both, I decided sharp in favour of the snipes.

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Posted: 13 December 2015 05:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Logophile - 12 December 2015 11:23 PM

Online Etymology Dictionary:

“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.

What dictionary is this from?

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