Parthian shot

Parthian shot

The Parthian shot was a military tactic employed by the Parthians, an ancient Iranian people. The Parthian archers, mounted on light horse, would feint retreat; then, while at a full gallop, turn their bodies back to shoot at the pursuing enemy. The maneuver required superb equestrian skills, since the rider's hands were occupied by his bow, leaving only pressure from his legs to guide his horse.

This tactic was used by most Eurasian nomads, including the Scythians, Huns, Magyars, Turks and Mongols, and it eventually spread to armies away from the Eurasian steppe, such as the Byzantine cataphracts and Sassanid clibanarii.Fact|date=February 2007

A notable battle in which this tactic was employed (by the Parthians) was the Battle of Carrhae. In this battle the Parthian shot was a principal factor in the Parthian victory over the Roman general Crassus.

Parting shot / Parthian shot

By way of metaphor, "Parthian shot" is also used to describe a barbed insult, delivered as the speaker departs.

The term "parting shot", used similarly, may be a folk etymology of "Parthian shot", meaning the term was corrupted through common parlance, but there is little firm evidence to support this claim. [ [] ] [ [] ]

ee also

*Caracole, a similar cavalry maneuver
*Cantabrian circle


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  • Parthian shot — A Parthian shot is the same as a parting shot, i.e. a final remark or glance made on leaving. The allusion is to the supposed custom of the ancient Parthian horsemen of confusing their enemy by hurling spears into their ranks while in (real or… …   Modern English usage

  • Parthian shot — n. any hostile gesture or remark made in leaving: Parthian cavalrymen usually shot at the enemy while retreating or pretending to retreat …   English World dictionary

  • Parthian Shot —    , PARTING SHOT    A Turkomanic people living southeast of the Caspian Sea and ruled by Scythian nomads, the Parthians were soldiers known to be among the best. Their country was Parthia, and they devoted their lives to becoming expert marksmen …   Dictionary of eponyms

  • Parthian shot — /paθiən ˈʃɒt/ (say pahtheeuhn shot) noun any sharp parting remark, as though delivered in retreat: *As a Parthian shot when she said goodbye she said she wondered Dr Hugh did not take the first opportunity of seeing his relations, and introducing …   Australian-English dictionary

  • Parthian shot — Par′thian shot′ n. a sharp, telling remark or gesture made in departing • Etymology: 1900–05; so called from the Parthian cavalry s habit of shooting arrows at the enemy while in real or feigned flight …   From formal English to slang

  • Parthian shot — n. a remark or glance etc. reserved for the moment of departure. Etymology: Parthia, an ancient kingdom in W. Asia: from the custom of a retreating Parthian horseman firing a shot at the enemy …   Useful english dictionary

  • Parthian shot — a sharp, telling remark, act, gesture, etc., made in departing. [1900 05; so called from the ancient Parthian cavalry s habit of shooting arrows rearward at the enemy while in real or feigned flight] * * * …   Universalium

  • Parthian shot — Synonyms and related words: PS, addendum, address, affirmation, afterthought, allegation, answer, apostrophe, appendix, assertion, averment, back answer, back matter, caustic remark, chorus, coda, codicil, colophon, comeback, comment, conclusion …   Moby Thesaurus

  • Parthian shot — noun another term for parting shot. Origin C19: so named because of the trick used by Parthians of shooting arrows backwards while fleeing …   English new terms dictionary

  • Parthian shot —  A remark or blow made while retreating …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

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