cheap shot

noun
1.
a covert, unsportsmanlike, and illegal act of deliberate roughness, especially in football, often calculated to injure an opponent.
2.
any mean or unsportsmanlike remark or action, especially one directed at a defenseless or vulnerable person.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

cheap shot

An unfair or unsporting verbal attack, as in You called him an amateur? That's really taking a cheap shot. The term originated in sports, especially American football, where it signifies deliberate roughness against an unprepared opponent. [Slang; second half of 1900s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
But with the goal of understanding, not taking the cheap shot.
Some have tried to take a cheap shot at that by saying it is numerology.
But that would be too easy, and a cheap shot to boot.
It was a cheap shot, and it's important to set the record straight.
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