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fair game

someone who we feel OK to criticise


fair game = Freiwild, jagbares Wild —— to be considered fair game = für vogelfrei gehalten werden



“Are children FAIR GAME for sophisticated and relentless marketing techniques? Many countries think not.”

The Economist

Did you

fair game

- someone or something that should be allowed to be criticized

Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary


The word “game” stems from the Old English “gamen,” meaning “joy, fun or amusement.” It has several Scandinavian cognates such as the Danish “gamen” and Swedish “gamman” (merriment).

The sense of “a contest played according to rules” first surfaced in the 14th century. During this time the sense of “wild animals caught for sport” also developed.

The word “game” is still used today to refer to wild animals that are hunted for sport or the meat of these animals when eaten as food.

As societies developed, many countries implemented hunting regulations to control animal populations. In the 1700s King George III issued a series of hunting laws that allowed only landowners and eldest sons to remove game from any land. The only exceptions were small animals and birds, which were defined as “fair game.”

The figurative sense of fair game, as in something or someone open to criticism, developed in the early 19th century.


- you can’t run with the hare and hunt with the hounds = to support both sides of a conflict or dispute, to speak against something whilst actually doing it (How can you promote cost-cutting and then stay in a 5-star hotel?)

- have a dog in the hunt = to have some vested interest in or something to gain by a given situation (Owning 5,000 shares in that company sure he has a dog in the hunt

- turkey shoot = a fight or competition that is one-sided because one combatant or competitor is far superior to the other (It was a turkey shoot because we were far better prepared than the competitors)

- shoot (look) daggers at s/o - To glare at s/o very angrily, spitefully, or disdainfully (The speaker shot daggers at an audience member who was texting during the presentation)

- a best shot = a very best attempt (She gave it her best shot)

THANKS to Jenny for triggering today’s word!

SMUGGLE OWAD into a conversation today, say something like:

“Everyone in the public eye is FAIR GAME for attack on social media these days.”

HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations at:

Paul Smith

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