Par·​thi·​an ˈpär-thē-ən How to pronounce Parthian (audio)
: of, relating to, or characteristic of ancient Parthia or its people
: relating to, being, or having the effect of a shot fired while in real or feigned retreat
Parthian noun

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The adjective Parthian, which often shows up in the phrase "Parthian shot," has its roots in the military strategies of the ancient Parthians. One of the fighting maneuvers of Parthian horsemen was to discharge arrows while in real or feigned retreat. The maneuver must have been memorable because "Parthian shot" continues to be used for a "parting shot," or a cutting remark made by a person who is leaving, many centuries after the dissolution of the Parthian empire.

Examples of Parthian in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Between the king’s reign during the Parthian era and the fortress location, which was within the catchment area of the Lower Zab River, researchers suggest a link between Rabana-Merquly and the lost city. Erin Berge, Discover Magazine, 19 July 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Parthian.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of Parthian was in 1565


Dictionary Entries Near Parthian

Cite this Entry

“Parthian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2024.

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