Definition of potshot in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpätˌSHät/


1A shot aimed unexpectedly or at random at someone or something with no chance of self-defense: a sniper took a potshot at him
More example sentences
  • One company commander said that as his squads moved through residential areas, they were fired on from inside buildings, and snipers took potshots at them from numerous hiding places.
  • It certainly seems that mass numbers of surrenders from the existing troops, as they exist, and the end of snipers and potshots coming from the local populace will indicate an end to this.
  • Native forces offered resistance, with fighters in buses and trucks sent across the river to attack US troops and regime snipers took potshots from rooftops.
1.1A criticism, especially a random or unfounded one: the show takes wickedly funny potshots at movies
More example sentences
  • That lonely eminence makes him something of a target for critical potshots from his lessers.
  • Rock critics love to take potshots at one another.
  • This could prove to be intensely irritating and amusing in equal measure, and probably all too easy to take potshots at.
1.2A shot at a game bird or other animal purely to kill it for food, without regard to the rules of the sport.
Example sentences
  • Should the Forest Service vigorously discourage the use of salt licks outside of Yellowstone (where hunters take potshots at the elk)?


Mid 19th century: originally a shot at an animal intended for the pot, i.e., for food, rather than for display (which would require skilled shooting).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pot·shot

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