English Wikipedia has an article on:


From Parthia +‎ -an.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈpɑːθɪən/
    • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈpɑɹθiən/


Parthian (not comparable)

  1. Relating to Parthia or Parthians.
    • 1828, Frederic Shoberl, Persia, Part 4, Chapter XII: Amusements and Exercises,
      The king’s cavalry are also trained to an exercise called the keykaj, which consists in turning about on the saddle at full speed and firing a carbine backward. This they learn from their childhood, and it gives them great confidence and dexterity on horseback. It is probably a remnant of the old Parthian custom so frequently alluded to in ancient authors; with this difference, that fire-arms are now used instead of bows and arrows.
    • 1911, Babylonia and Assyria: Modern Discovery, article in Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition,
      Midway in the mound is a platform of large bricks stamped with the names of Sargon of Akkad and his son Naram-Sin (3800 B.C.); as the débris above them is 34 ft. thick, the topmost stratum being not later than the Parthian era (H. V. Hilprecht, The Babylonian Expedition, i. 2, p. 23), it is calculated that the débris underneath the pavement, 30 ft. thick, must represent a period of about 3000 years, more especially as older constructions had to be levelled before the pavement was laid.
  2. Delivered as if in retreat. (An allusion to the Parthian battle tactic of firing arrows backwards from horseback while apparently in retreat.)
    A Parthian shot.
    • 1837 Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution: A History
      So that poor Brunout has nothing for it but to retreat with accelerated nimbleness, through rank after rank; Parthian-like, fencing as he flies....
    • 1863, Theodore Winthrop, Life in the Open Air, Chapter I: Off,
      Finally the blue dells and gorges of a wooded mountain, for two hours our landmark, rose between us and the sun. But the sun’s Parthian arrows gave him a splendid triumph, more signal for its evanescence. A storm was inevitable, and sunset prepared a reconciling pageant.
    • 1887, Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet, Part 1, Chapter 3: The Lauriston Garden Mystery,
      "Poison," said Sherlock Holmes curtly, and strode off. "One other thing, Lestrade," he added, turning round at the door: "‘Rache,’ is the German for ‘revenge’; so don't lose your time looking for Miss Rachel."
      With which Parthian shot he walked away, leaving the two rivals open-mouthed behind him.

Derived termsEdit



Parthian (plural Parthians)

  1. A native or inhabitant of Parthia.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Marcus Junianus Justinus, Cornelius Nepos, Justin, Cornelius Nepos, and Eutropius, tr. with notes by J.S. Watson, page 272:
      The Parthians, in whose hands the empire of the east now is, having divided the world, as it were, with the Romans, were originally exiles from Scythia. This is apparent from their very name; for in the Scythian language exiles are called Parthi.
  2. An extinct Western Iranian language that was spoken in Parthia.


See alsoEdit