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Marksman vs. Sharpshooter

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Gautier51, Apr 19, 2011.

  1. Gautier51 Senior Member

    French
    Who could tell me difference between a marksman and a sharpshooter ?
     
  2. MuttQuad

    MuttQuad Senior Member

    New York, NY
    English - AmE
    Yup, at least as far as the US Army is concerned. Three ascending levels of skill in riflery as determined by target-shooting rounds: marksman, sharpshooter, expert. Thus, a sharpshooter would have had a better score than a marksman.
     
  3. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    "Sharpshooter" implies more skill than "marksman" in general speech also. If someone is a really good shot, I'd have to say "he's an excellent marksman" to convey this, but "he's a sharpshooter" or (for emphasis) "he's a real sharpshooter" get the same idea across without the adjective.
     
  4. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    Context, please. Where did you come across these terms?
     
  5. Gautier51 Senior Member

    French
    Nowhere ! I just found "marksman" in a text and looking for its definition, I found "sharpshooter". And I wondered if there where a difference (Wiki says sharpshooter is a term of the early 19th century...)
     
  6. Einstein

    Einstein Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    UK, English
    I see from the above posts that technically a "sharpshooter" is better than a marskman, but in a literary context I'd say they're synonyms. Max Eastman in his translation of Trotsky's "History of the Russian Revolution" used the term "Lettish sharpshooters", but could just as easily have said "Latvian marksmen".
     
  7. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    I agree with Einstein -- in general usage I would consider marksman and sharpshooter synonyms. It is only in specialist contexts that they are rankings with one being better than the other.
     
  8. Gautier51 Senior Member

    French
    OK, thank's. It crystal clear.
     
  9. pops91710

    pops91710 Senior Member

    I wonder if Wiki said that about sharpshooter because the preferred rifle for that era for long range marksmanship was a Sharps Rifle. I don't think Wiki was implyng that sharpshooter is now a dead word.
     
  10. Gautier51 Senior Member

    French
    Either way, you've proven me it isn't !
     
  11. Einstein

    Einstein Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    UK, English
    Here is a source that suggests there's no connection. In fact, as I had never heard of the Sharps rifle, I assumed the derivation was the one given here.
    To me, marksman is a much more familiar word than sharpshooter. Would this be an AE/BE difference?
     
  12. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    Sharpshooter predates Sharps' rifle by at least 50 years. I suspect Wiki merely meant that the word has its origins in the early 1800s (although it must certainly have been around at least somewhat before then). I agree they can't be implying that the term is outdated, as it is common knowledge that it is not.

    I agree that outside of its usage as a military term of art, or reference to such, that marksman and sharpshooter may be used synonymously, but even in general use, I think a sharpshooter might be regarded as a particularly accurate marksman.
     
  13. pops91710

    pops91710 Senior Member

    Interesting!! At least it proves the question is not unique.

    Is it a pond difference? I don't know. They both are used in the American lexicon, often interchangeably. I can tell you that I won my Expert ribon with the M-16, and never heard of a ribbon for anything less. I believe the Marines may have grades of riflery.
     
  14. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    Sharpshooter has its origins in Europe, I believe, during the Napoleonic Wars (there is an exact transliteration in German, but I don't if this came first).

    Perhaps it is more familiar in the US today because of its adoption as a specialist term in the US military; which it is not, to my knowledge, in the British armed forces. We know the term from movies and such, but neither word is one that comes up every day, and I'm not sure whether there is a huge difference in understanding between the US and the UK.
     
  15. pops91710

    pops91710 Senior Member

    What would you call one who is an expert rifleman in hostage situations called in to 'take out' the bad guy?
     
  16. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
    I would call that a sniper. Sniper can be used for either a "good guy" or a "bad guy;" it's someone who can shoot very accurately at long range.
     
  17. pops91710

    pops91710 Senior Member

    In the states that is obvious. We were discussing the difference in the UK. As a police officer we never called our shooters snipers because of the ugly connotation attached to it. It smacks of murderous. "Tower Sniper shoots 16 in Austin TX", kind of thing.
     
  18. MuttQuad

    MuttQuad Senior Member

    New York, NY
    English - AmE
    When I was in the Army (still then using the M-1), badges rather than ribbons were awarded in the three grades, marksman, shrpshooter, and expert, according to the scores achived in the "trainfire" target-shooting program then in use.
     
  19. pops91710

    pops91710 Senior Member

    Sorry, I saw more Marines in Vietnam than Army. I only used them because I saw them more. I did figure the Army had a similar grading system. Air Force had no need for grades since there were no infantrymen then. What they have now is anyone's guess.
     
  20. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    The U.S. Army and Marine Corps both have three levels of qualification: Expert, Sharpshooter and Marksman. Wiki reference.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2011

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