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Parting shot, Parthian shot

Posted by ESC on August 15, 2000

In Reply to: Etimology of "parting shot" posted by Sarah Capote on August 14, 2000

: Hello everyone,
: I was wondering if anyone knows the historical origins of the phrase "parting shot?"
: Where did the phrase come from? Why? How?
: Thx,
: Sarah

PARTING SHOT - "'You wound, like Parthians, while you fly, And kill with a retreating eye.' Samuel Butler, Hudibras . A final insult hurled as one is leaving, or the last word in an argument. Most writers believe that this expression is a distortion of 'Parthian shot,' although there is no firm evidence to support this etymology. It alludes to a practice of the ancient Parthians, who lived southeast of the Caspian Sea and whose empire at one time (first century B.C.) stretched from the Euphrates River eastward to the Indus River and from Oxus to the Indian Ocean. Mentioned in the Bible (Acts 1:9), they were renowned archers and horsemen and were known for their practice of turning in flight (either real or pretended to lure followers) to discharge their arrows at the pursuing enemy." From "Fighting Words: From War, Rebellion, and other Combative Capers" by Christine Ammer (NTC Publishing Group, Chicago, Ill., 1989, 1999).