Definition of potshot in English:



  • 1A shot aimed at a person or thing that happens to be within easy reach.

    ‘a sniper took a potshot at him’
    • ‘That firefight started when snipers took some potshots at the Marines providing security around here.’
    • ‘Troops on the ground, though, do say that there have been sporadic clashes, some sniper fire, and a few potshots from insurgent forces.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He said: ‘The guy was taking potshots at everyone and it was just unlucky that he hit me.’’
    • ‘Youngsters began tossing grenades into the compound, and locals with guns took potshots at the soldiers.’
    • ‘Common criminals don't throw their lives away by taking potshots at the most powerful military machine the world has ever known from the back of pickup trucks.’
    • ‘When the Army first started taking potshots at empty buildings there, I also thought it might be a case of some lower-level officers and grunts venting a little steam.’
    • ‘The tension is high all around here, but not necessarily because of the protests or potshots being taken at the Army patrols.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He never gets to meet the informant as a sniper starts taking potshots at the building.’
    • ‘I saw, as I did in the movie Pearl Harbor, people taking potshots at airplanes.’
    • ‘And the insurgents are no national liberation force, but rather chancers taking potshots at what they consider to be cowardly occupiers.’
    • ‘But isn't it surprising there have not been more deaths in that benighted land where people seem to have nothing else to do but take potshots at our boys.’
    1. 1.1 A criticism, especially a random or unfounded one.
      ‘the show takes wickedly funny potshots at as many movies as it can muster’
      • ‘It's just easier to take a potshot at George W Bush than anyone else.’
      • ‘Consequently, it sometimes feels as though Wheen is taking potshots at fairly easy targets.’
      • ‘But it is important to remind him that it is far too easy for him to take potshots at vegetarians because they are still in the minority, numerically speaking.’
      • ‘There've been many films over the years that have taken potshots at Catholics, but I don't remember any of us slaughtering filmmakers over the offense.’
      • ‘That lonely eminence makes him something of a target for critical potshots from his lessers.’
      • ‘This could prove to be intensely irritating and amusing in equal measure, and probably all too easy to take potshots at.’
      • ‘She really captured the skater/snowboarder lifestyle without taking easy potshots at the culture.’
      • ‘She takes it all in her stride, including his abuse of other staff and customers, but draws the line when he takes potshots at her sickly young son.’
      • ‘Rock critics love to take potshots at one another.’


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