Parthian shot


Parthian shot
Parthian shot
A Parthian shot is the same as a parting shot, i.e. a final remark or glance made on leaving. The allusion is to the supposed custom of the ancient Parthian horsemen of confusing their enemy by hurling spears into their ranks while in (real or feigned) flight. The earliest citation for Parthian shot in the OED is as late as 1902, although there is one from 1842 in a less developed sense (referring to an action rather than a remark) and another for Parthian glance from 1875, and the allusive use is dated back to the 16c in less fixed expressions. The first examples of parting shot are from the end of the 19c:

• That was a parting shot he took at you, by jingo! —J. Payn, 1888.

This is now the standard form of the phrase, although Parthian shot is still occasionally used:

• ‘Anyway,’ he offered a Parthian shot, ‘I don't know why you bother. You hate vegetarian food.’ —Sunday Times, 2005.


Modern English usage. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Parthian shot — n. any hostile gesture or remark made in leaving: Parthian cavalrymen usually shot at the enemy while retreating or pretending to retreat …   English World dictionary

  • Parthian shot — The Parthian shot was a military tactic employed by the Parthians, an ancient Iranian people. The Parthian archers, mounted on light horse, would feint retreat; then, while at a full gallop, turn their bodies back to shoot at the pursuing enemy.… …   Wikipedia

  • Parthian Shot —    , PARTING SHOT    A Turkomanic people living southeast of the Caspian Sea and ruled by Scythian nomads, the Parthians were soldiers known to be among the best. Their country was Parthia, and they devoted their lives to becoming expert marksmen …   Dictionary of eponyms

  • Parthian shot — /paθiən ˈʃɒt/ (say pahtheeuhn shot) noun any sharp parting remark, as though delivered in retreat: *As a Parthian shot when she said goodbye she said she wondered Dr Hugh did not take the first opportunity of seeing his relations, and introducing …   Australian English dictionary

  • Parthian shot — Par′thian shot′ n. a sharp, telling remark or gesture made in departing • Etymology: 1900–05; so called from the Parthian cavalry s habit of shooting arrows at the enemy while in real or feigned flight …   From formal English to slang

  • Parthian shot — n. a remark or glance etc. reserved for the moment of departure. Etymology: Parthia, an ancient kingdom in W. Asia: from the custom of a retreating Parthian horseman firing a shot at the enemy …   Useful english dictionary

  • Parthian shot — a sharp, telling remark, act, gesture, etc., made in departing. [1900 05; so called from the ancient Parthian cavalry s habit of shooting arrows rearward at the enemy while in real or feigned flight] * * * …   Universalium

  • Parthian shot — Synonyms and related words: PS, addendum, address, affirmation, afterthought, allegation, answer, apostrophe, appendix, assertion, averment, back answer, back matter, caustic remark, chorus, coda, codicil, colophon, comeback, comment, conclusion …   Moby Thesaurus

  • Parthian shot — noun another term for parting shot. Origin C19: so named because of the trick used by Parthians of shooting arrows backwards while fleeing …   English new terms dictionary

  • Parthian shot —  A remark or blow made while retreating …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors


We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.