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 snäppa "sandpiper"), perhaps originally "snipper." The Old English name was snite, which is of uncertain derivation. An opprobrious term (see guttersnipe) since c. 1600.
"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.
updated on April 06, 2014