"Anti-sink missile"

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Julie Coleman, "Shocking video shows Ukrainian drone destroying 2 Russian patrol boats", Insider 5/4/2022:

Ukraine said on Monday its drones sank two Russian ships in the Black Sea near Snake Island, which the Russians had captured the day the war broke out on February 24.

Snake Island has also become a legendary symbol of resistance for Ukraine, as military defending the island refused to surrender to Russian forces on February 24, radioing "Russian warship go screw yourself," when the Russian flagship cruiser Moskva approached.


The patrol boat losses add to the mounting toll for the Russian Navy. In April, the Moskva sank after being hit with at least one Neptune anti-sink missile, the Pentagon confirmed.

Substituting "anti-sink missile" for "anti-ship missile" is a nice example of a Fay-Cutler malapropism — though this one has a feature more common in typing than in speech, namely substituting a verb for a noun.

The obligatory screenshot:


  1. Philip Taylor said,

    May 6, 2022 @ 5:28 am

    At the time, it was reported that the Ukrainian forces defending the island had told the Russian warship "Go f*** yourself". Obviously they were speaking Russian (or Ukrainian) and therefore didn't use the F-word itself, but I wonder why the Insider felt it necessary to tone the word down. I also wonder why they felt it necessary to refer to the video as "shocking" — obviously I deplore the loss of life involved, which I regard as deeply saddening, but nonetheless "shocking", to me at least, appears to indicate more than a little sympathy for the Russian perspective. I know nothing of the politics of the Insider but I would have expected it/them to be rather more pro-Ukranian than it/they appear to be. Incidentally, I cannot see the video referred to in either of my browsers — is it visible to anyone else ?

  2. Philip Anderson said,

    May 6, 2022 @ 7:05 am

    In this context, “shocking” is probably just a clickbait adjective, to persuade you to open the video, rather than a judgement of the event.

  3. Cervantes said,

    May 6, 2022 @ 7:11 am

    The typo isn't "sink," it's "anti." Should read pro-sink missile.

  4. Trogluddite said,

    May 6, 2022 @ 7:44 am

    @Philip Taylor: 'I also wonder why they felt it necessary to refer to the video as "shocking"'
    Advertising revenue. You won't believe which incredible intensifier succumbs to the awe-inspiring hyperbole-treadmill next (unless you know this one amazing trick to eliminate clickbait forever that the evil news media is hiding from us!) ;-)

  5. Frank said,

    May 6, 2022 @ 8:20 am

    As the Neptune missile is designed to skim the surface of the sea, anti-sink actually is a desirable feature.

  6. Mike Grubb said,

    May 6, 2022 @ 8:57 am

    Perhaps what was "shocking" was that 1 relatively small and cheap drone was able to sink 2 relatively massive and expensive warships.

  7. John Lawler said,

    May 6, 2022 @ 10:50 am

    I strongly suspect that the writer was confusing the term anti-tank, which has the right velar final and has been in the news a lot lately, with anti-ship; situational pragmatics probly did the rest.

  8. Philip Anderson said,

    May 6, 2022 @ 3:02 pm

    @Mike Grubb
    “Patrol boats” in one description, so not that massive. Bigger than a drone of course, but the vulnerability of a warship to an aircraft was shown at Pearl Harbour, followed by the sinking of the Royal Navy’s Prince of Wales and Repulse at sea.

  9. Joe Sommer said,

    May 6, 2022 @ 3:49 pm

    I remember reading somewhere that the expression used at Snake Island would literally translate to: "Go sit on a penis." Which isn't a bad malediction, even in English.

  10. Viseguy said,

    May 7, 2022 @ 10:06 pm

    @Joe Sommer: The Ukrainian sailors' message, as widely reported — "Русский военный корабль, иди на хуй" — is less clinical, and (maybe) more ambiguous: "хуй" is better translated as "cock" (in the penile sense), and the absence of definite/indefinite articles in Russian leaves open the question of whose. The speaker's? A generic male organ? A penis as opposed to a vagina? Maybe a native Russian speaker can throw light. I've always understood the exclamation "хуй в рот!" (literally, "cock into mouth!") to mean "suck my cock", but I'm just a long-time-ago student of the language.

  11. John Swindle said,

    May 8, 2022 @ 1:35 am

    The anti-sink missile is remarkable and does sound like it could be influenced by "anti-tank."

    After the Snake Island incident the department of highways asked Ukrainian localities and the public to change directional signs for the benefit of advancing Russian forces. To illustrate the request they provided a Photoshopped photo of a road sign with arrows pointing forward to НА ХУЙ ('fuck off'), left to ЗНОВ НА ХУЙ ('fuck off again'), and right to ДО РОСІЇ НА ХУЙ ('fuck off to Russia'). I'm surprised that this hasn't come up here before.

  12. KeithB said,

    May 9, 2022 @ 8:09 am

    "Go screw yourself" makes a lot more sense than "Nuts!"

  13. Brett said,

    May 9, 2022 @ 5:40 pm

    @KeithB: Supposedly, General McAuliffe's immediately reply when the demand that he surrender Bastogne came to him was, "Fucking nuts!" After brief consideration, he and his officers decided that that summarized their response adequately, but they prudishly removed the f-bomb from the official communication.

  14. KeithB said,

    May 9, 2022 @ 9:56 pm

    "effing nuts!" does not make much sense, either.

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