Snipe hunt

This article is about impossible tasks, often referred to as fool’s errands. For other uses, see Fool's errand (disambiguation).

A snipe hunt or fool's errand is a type of practical joke or prank that involves experienced people making fun of credulous newcomers by giving them an impossible or imaginary task.[1] The snipe hunt may be assigned to a target as part of a process of hazing, but the word "sniper" is derived from a marksman with enough skill to shoot one.[2]

A snipe hunt is a specific type of "wild-goose chase", where a person embarks on an impossible search. Where a wild-goose chase may be accidental, a snipe hunt is always initiated by a second person as a prank.[3]

It should also be noted that snipe do in fact exist, and they can be, and are hunted for sport. While the term 'Snipe Hunt' is most commonly used as described above, snipe hunting is a real pursuit.[4]


The origin of the term is a practical joke where inexperienced campers are told about an imaginary bird or animal called the "snipe" as well as a usually preposterous method of catching it, such as running around the woods carrying a bag or making strange noises such as banging rocks together.[1] Real snipe (a family of shorebirds) are difficult to catch for experienced hunters, so much so that the word "sniper" is derived from it to refer to anyone skilled enough to shoot one.[2]


See also


  1. 1 2 Palmatier, Robert Allen. Speaking of Animals: A Dictionary of Animal Metaphors. Greenwood Publishing. p. 375. ISBN 0313294909.
  2. 1 2 "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  3. Paris, Leslie (2008). Children's Nature: The Rise of the American Summer Camp. NYU Press. p. 104. ISBN 0814767508.
  4. Houser, Jason. "Snipe Hunting Is Real [VIDEO] | Griffin's Guide to Hunting and Fishing". Retrieved 2016-04-26.
  5. "Editorial: TTAC's Guide to Car Dealer Lingo". The Truth About Cars. 2009-08-12. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
  6. "Sports: A Game Of Inches". Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  7. "Eugene Register-Guard - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  8. Aman, Reinhold (1996). Maledicta, Volume 12. Maledicta Press. p. 11.
  9. Humphries, Vaughan (2008). Grumpy Young Man: The Incoherent Mutterings of a Humanitarian Misanthrope. AuthorHouse. p. 393. ISBN 1467899437.
  10. Josefowitz, Natasha (1988). Fitting In: How to Get a Good Start in Your New Job (illustrated ed.). Addison-Wesley. p. 32. ISBN 0201116537.
  11. Cameron, Kim S. (2011). The Oxford Handbook of Positive Organizational Scholarship (illustrated ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 482. ISBN 0199734615.
  12. Paap, Kris (2006). Working Construction: Why White Working-Class Men Put Themselves—and the Labor Movement—in Harm's Way (illustrated ed.). Cornell University Press. p. 69. ISBN 0801472865.
  13. "Marvin Pipkin". Schenectady Museum. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  14. Cutler, Deborah (2005). Dictionary of Naval Terms (illustrated ed.). Naval Institute Press. p. 182. ISBN 1-59114-150-8.
  15. Joey D. Ossian (4 February 2004). A Marine's Lapse in Synapse: Part Ii: More Unbelievable, But True Short Stories. AuthorHouse. p. 96. ISBN 978-1-4140-4945-8.
  16. Rich, Alvin (1984). The History of the BSA. Aramco Press. p. 87.
  17. Matej Kobza. "Kto zaváha, naletí". Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  18. "Apríl". Ž, magazín pro ženy. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  19. Kutinová, Amálie. "Na prvního apríla". Gabra a Málinka, povedené dcerky. Jo! Obětovat moc na to nemóžu, ale šesták dám," hrabala Gabra honem v kapse. "Tu máš," povídala Málince, "a kup mně zaň ‚semosel‘.

Further reading

External links

Look up snipe hunt in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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