2

From Yahoo! News:

Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he was “encouraged” by Obama’s strong rhetoric but took a veiled shot at the president’s vow not to send in combat troops.

“We cannot afford to rule out military options or allow ISIL to make any further progress. Our unequivocal and unrelenting goal must be to pursue these terrorists wherever they go and destroy them,” said Chambliss.

I tried to look it up but I couldn't find anything because there was literally no dictionary out there that had this expression.

3

Dictionary.reference has this to say about veiled:

adjective
1.
having a veil:
a veiled hat.
2.
covered or concealed by, or as if by, a veil:
a veiled woman.
3.
not openly or directly expressed; masked; disguised; hidden; obscure:
a veiled threat.

4.
lacking clarity or distinctness:
veiled sounds; a veiled image.

It is meaning 3) that fits the bill. Whether it's a shot, a stab or a threat, when it's veiled, it is not openly delivered.

When the attempt is not too well disguised, you often see it as a thinly veiled shot.

Basically, the shot or threat is never really hidden when it is mentioned — the reporter would not have seen it! It basically means that it is obvious that someone attacks another, but in such a way that they seem to try to hide the attack.

It is often associated with political dealings:
Instead of saying that my opponent is an idiot, I may just show my audience that a certain idea is idiotic, knowing full well my dear opponent has been defending that idea with fervour over the last weeks.

Such a thing could be called a (thinly) veiled attack at my opponent.

  • +1 particularly for flagging up a [thinly] veiled threat (over a quarter of all written instances of that specific usage include the word thinly, and with attack instead of threat it's almost half). – FumbleFingers Sep 11 '14 at 14:25

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