Word Origin & History
long-billed marsh bird, early 14c., from O.N. -snipa in myrisnipa "moor snipe;" perhaps a common Gmc. term (cf. O.S. sneppa, M.Du. snippe, Du. snip, O.H.G. snepfa, Ger. Schnepfe "snipe"). The O.E. name was snite, which is of uncertain derivation. An opprobrious term (cf.
) since c.1600. The verb meaning "to shoot from a hidden place" is first attested 1773 (among British soldiers in India), in allusion to hunting snipe as game; sniper first attested 1824 in the sense of "sharpshooter."