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    pincushion (n.) — Pismo Beach

    pincushion (n.)

    1630s, from pin (n.) + cushion (n.).ETD pincushion (n.).2

    Pindaric (adj.)

    1630s, pertaining to or in the (reputed) style of Pindar, from Latin Pindaricus, from Greek Pindaros, the Greek lyric poet (c. 522-443 B.C.E.).ETD Pindaric (adj.).2

    pine (v.)

    Middle English pinen "cause to starve" (c. 1300), from Old English pinian "to torture, torment, afflict, cause to suffer," from *pīn (n.) "pain, torture, punishment," from a general Germanic word (compare Middle Dutch pinen, Old High German pinon, German Pein, Old Norse pina), all possibly ultimately from Latin poena "punishment, penalty" (see penal). If so, the Latin word probably came into Germanic with Christianity.ETD pine (v.).2

    The intransitive sense of "to languish, waste away, be consumed with grief or longing," the main modern meaning, is recorded from early 14c., via the Middle English intransitive senses of "endure penance, torment oneself; endure pain, suffer." Related: Pined; pining.ETD pine (v.).3

    pine (n.)

    "coniferous tree, tree of the genus Pinus," Old English pin (in compounds), from Old French pin and directly from Latin pinus "pine, pine-tree, fir-tree," which is perhaps from a PIE *pi-nu-, from root *peie- "to be fat, swell" (see fat (adj.)).ETD pine (n.).2

    If so, the tree's name would be a reference to its sap or pitch. Compare Sanskrit pituh "juice, sap, resin," pitudaruh "pine tree," Greek pitys "pine tree." Also see pitch (n.1). The native Old English word was furh (see fir). Pine-top "cheap illicit whiskey," is attested by 1858, Southern U.S. slang.ETD pine (n.).3

    pineal (adj.)

    1680s, in reference to the gland in the brain, from French pinéal, literally "like a pine cone," from Latin pinea "pine cone," from pinus "pine tree" (see pine (n.)).ETD pineal (adj.).2

    pineapple (n.)

    late 14c., pin-appel, "pine cone," from pine (n.) + apple. The reference to the fruit of the tropical plant (from resemblance of shape) is recorded by 1660s, and pine-cone emerged 1690s to replace pineapple in its original sense except in dialect. For "pine-cone," Old English also used pinhnyte "pine nut." Pine-apple also was used in a late 14c. Biblical translation for "pomegranate."ETD pineapple (n.).2

    pine-barren (n.)

    "level, sandy tract covered sparsely with pine trees," 1731, American-English, from pine (n.) + barren (n.).ETD pine-barren (n.).2

    pine-cone (n.)

    "strobilus of a pine tree," 1690s, from pine (n.) + cone (n.). An earlier word for it was pine nut (Old English pinhnyte); also see pineapple.ETD pine-cone (n.).2

    pine-knot (n.)

    "resinous knot of a pine tree, used as fuel," 1660s, from pine (n.1) + knot (n.).ETD pine-knot (n.).2

    pine-needle (n.)

    "acicular leaf of the pine tree," 1834, from pine (n.) + needle (n.).ETD pine-needle (n.).2

    pine-nut (n.)

    "pine-cone," a sense now obsolete; also "edible seed-kernel of several species of pine," Old English pinhnyte; see pine (n.) + nut (n.).ETD pine-nut (n.).2

    pine-tree (n.)

    Old English pintreow; see pine (n.) + tree (n.).ETD pine-tree (n.).2

    pin-feather (n.)

    "a young feather, one on which the vanes have not yet expanded," 1775, from pin (n.) + feather (n.). Related: Pin-feathered.ETD pin-feather (n.).2

    ping (n.)

    1835, imitative of the sound of a bullet whistling through the air or striking something sharply. Meaning "short, high-pitched electronic pulse" is attested from 1943. As a verb from 1855; in computer sense is from at least 1981, based on earlier use of the word in reference to a submarine sonar pulse, in which it might combine the sound-word and ping-pong (which also is based on sound). Related: Pinged; pinging.ETD ping (n.).2

    ping-pong (v.)

    1901, "to play table tennis," from ping-pong (n.). In the figurative sense of "move or send back and forth without progress, resolution, or purpose" from 1952. Related: Ping-ponged; ping-ponging.ETD ping-pong (v.).2

    ping-pong (n.)

    1900, as Ping-Pong, trademark for table tennis equipment (Parker Brothers). Both words are imitative of the sound of the ball hitting a hard surface; from ping + pong (attested from 1823). It had a "phenomenal vogue" in U.S. c. 1900-1905.ETD ping-pong (n.).2

    pinguid (adj.)

    "of the nature of or resembling fat, unctuous, greasy, oily," 1630s, from Latin pinguis "fat (adj.), juicy," figuratively "dull, gross, heavy; comfortable," from stem of pinguere, from PIE *pei- "fat, sap, juice" (see fat (adj.)). Related: Pinguidinous.ETD pinguid (adj.).2

    pinhead (n.)

    also pin-head, "the head of a pin," 1660s, from pin (n.) + head (n.). From mid-15c. as the type of something small or a minuscule amount. Meaning "person of little intelligence" (and/or a small head) is by 1896. Related: Pinheaded.ETD pinhead (n.).2

    pin-hole (n.)

    "small hole made by the puncture of a pin," 1670s, from pin (n.) + hole (n.). By 1891 in reference to a type of camera using a pin-hole in place of a lens.ETD pin-hole (n.).2

    piny (adj.)

    "pertaining to pine, of the nature of pine, consisting of or abounding in pines," 1620s, from pine (n.) + -y (2). Related: Pininess.ETD piny (adj.).2

    pinion (n.2)

    "small wheel with teeth to gear with a larger one" (as in rack and pinion), 1650s, from French pignon "pinion" (16c.), literally "a gable," from Old French pignon "pointed gable, summit," from Vulgar Latin *pinnionem, augmentative of Latin pinna "battlement, pinnacle" (see pin (n.)). Pinoun as "a gable" was borrowed from Old French in Middle English (late 13c.).ETD pinion (n.2).2

    pinion (v.)

    "disable by binding the arms," 1550s, older in English than literal sense "cut or bind the pinions (of a bird's wing) to prevent flying" (1570s); from pinion (n.1). Related: Pinioned.ETD pinion (v.).2

    pinion (n.1)

    "wing joint, segment of a bird's wing" (technically the joint of a bird's wing furthest from the body), early 15c., from Old French pignon, penon "wing-feather, wing, pinion" (c. 1400), from Vulgar Latin *pinnionem (nominative *pinnio), augmentative of Latin pinna "wing" (from PIE root *pet- "to rush, to fly").ETD pinion (n.1).2

    pink (n., adj.)

    1570s, common name of Dianthus, a garden plant of various colors; a word of unknown origin. It is perhaps from pink (v.) via the notion of "perforated" (scalloped) petals. Or perhaps it is from Dutch pink "small, narrow," itself obscure (compare pinkie), via the term pinck oogen "half-closed eyes," literally "small eyes," which was borrowed into English (1570s) and may have been used as a name for Dianthus, which sometimes has small dots resembling eyes.ETD pink (n., adj.).2

    The noun meaning "pale red color, red color of low chroma but high luminosity" is recorded by 1733 (pink-coloured is recorded from 1680s), from one of the common colors of the flowers. The adjective pink is attested by 1720. As an earlier name for such a color English had incarnation "flesh-color" (mid-14c.), and as an adjective incarnate (1530s), from Latin words for "flesh" (see incarnation) but these also had other associations and tended to drift in sense from "flesh-color, blush-color" toward "crimson, blood color."ETD pink (n., adj.).3

    The flower meaning led (by 1590s) to a figurative use for "the flower" or highest type or example of excellence of anything (as in Mercutio's "Nay, I am the very pinck of curtesie," Rom. & Jul. II.iv.61). Compare flour (n.).ETD pink (n., adj.).4

    The political noun sense "person perceived as left of center but not entirely radical (i.e. red)" is attested by 1927, but the image dates to at least 1837.ETD pink (n., adj.).5

    Pink slip "discharge notice" is attested by 1915; pink slips had various connotations in employment in the first decade of the 20th century, including a paper signed by a worker to testify he would leave the labor union or else be fired. To see pink elephants "hallucinate from alcoholism" is from 1913 in Jack London's "John Barleycorn."ETD pink (n., adj.).6

    pink (v.)

    c. 1200, pungde "to pierce, puncture, stab with a pointed weapon," later (early 14c.) "make holes in; spur a horse," of uncertain origin; perhaps from a nasalized form of the Romanic stem that also yielded French piquer "to prick, pierce," Spanish picar (see pike (n.1)). Or perhaps from Old English pyngan and directly from its source, Latin pungere "to prick, pierce" (from suffixed form of PIE root *peuk- "to prick"). Related: Pinked; pinking.ETD pink (v.).2

    Later "to decorate (a garment, leather) by making small holes in a regular pattern at the edge or elsewhere" (c. 1500). Surviving mainly in pinking shears (by 1934).ETD pink (v.).3

    pink-collar (adj.)

    in reference to jobs generally held by women, 1977, from pink (adj.), considered a characteristically feminine color, + collar (n.). Compare blue-collar, white-collar.ETD pink-collar (adj.).2


    in reference to a semi-official detective, 1888 (Pinkerton men), from the detective agency begun in U.S. 1850 by Allan Pinkerton (1819-1884).ETD Pinkerton.2

    pink-eye (n.)

    contagious eye infection, 1882, American English, from pink (adj.) + eye (n.). Earlier it meant "a small eye" (1570s).ETD pink-eye (n.).2

    pinky (adj.)

    "pinkish, somewhat pink," 1790, from pink (n.) + -y (2).ETD pinky (adj.).2

    pinkie (n.)

    "the little finger," 1808, in Scottish, from Dutch pinkje, diminutive of pink "little finger," originally "small, narrow," a word of uncertain origin (see pink (n., adj.)).ETD pinkie (n.).2

    pinkish (adj.)

    "somewhat pink," 1784, from pink (n.) + -ish.ETD pinkish (adj.).2

    pinko (n.)

    1936, derogatory slang form of pink (adj.) in the political sense, used of people whose social or political views "have a tendency toward 'red;' " a metaphor that had existed at least since 1837. As an adjective by 1957.ETD pinko (n.).2

    pinnace (n.)

    type of small, light vessel, generally with two masts and rigged like a schooner but capable of being propelled by oars, 1540s, from French pinace (earlier spinace, 15c., from Old French espinace, Modern French péniche; also attested as Anglo-Latin spinachium (mid-14c.)); a word of unknown origin.ETD pinnace (n.).2

    The French word perhaps is from Italian pinaccia or Spanish pinaza, so called for being built of pine wood, from pino "pine tree; ship" (Latin pinus "pine tree" also had a secondary sense of "ship, vessel"). But variations in early forms makes this uncertain. In old slang also "a woman," especially "a mistress, a prostitute" (1560s).ETD pinnace (n.).3

    pinnacle (n.)

    c. 1300, "mountain top, sharp peak, promontory," from Old French pinacle "top, gable" (13c.) and directly from Late Latin pinnaculum "peak, pinnacle, gable," extended form (via diminutive suffix, but not necessarily implying smallness) of Latin pinna "peak, point," (see pin (n.)). Figurative use is attested from c. 1400. The meaning "pointed turret on the buttress or roof of a building" is from late 14c.ETD pinnacle (n.).2

    pinnate (adj.)

    "shaped like a feather; resembling a feather in structure," 1727, from Latin pinnatus "feathered, winged," from pinna "feather, wing" (from PIE root *pet- "to rush, to fly").ETD pinnate (adj.).2

    pinniped (n.)

    "a fin-footed mammal," one having feet like fins or flippers, especially of the group of fin-footed aquatic carnivorous quadruped mammals that includes seals, sea-lions, and walruses, 1842, from Modern Latin Pinnipedia, suborder of aquatic carnivorous mammals (seals and walruses), literally "having feet as fins," from Latin pinna in its secondary sense "fin" (see pin (n.)) + pes, genitive pedis "foot" (from PIE root *ped- "foot").ETD pinniped (n.).2

    pin-oak (n.)

    type of tree found in wet places in the Eastern U.S., from pin (n.) + oak; "so named in allusion to the persistent dead branches, which resemble pins driven into the trunk" [Century Dictionary].ETD pin-oak (n.).2

    pinochle (n.)

    once-popular American game played with a double 24-card pack, originally German, also pinocle, etc., 1864, Peaknuckle, of obscure origin (as are the names of many card games), evidently from Swiss dialect Binokel (German), binocle (French), from French binocle "pince-nez" (17c.), from Medieval Latin binoculus "binoculars" (see binocular).ETD pinochle (n.).2

    Binokel was the name of a card game played in Württemberg, related to the older card game bezique and the name is perhaps from French bésigue "bezique," the card game, wrongly identified with besicles "spectacles," perhaps because the game is played with a double deck. Pinochle was popularized in U.S. late 1800s by German immigrants.ETD pinochle (n.).3

    pinocytosis (n.)

    "process by which liquid is taken into a cell," 1931, from Greek pinein "to drink" (from PIE root *po(i)- "to drink") + -cytosis.ETD pinocytosis (n.).2

    pinot (n.)

    type of grape vine used in wine-making, 1912, American English variant spelling of French pineau (attested in English from 1763), name of a family of wine grapes, from pin "pine tree" (see pine (n.)) + diminutive suffix -eau. So called from the shape of the grape clusters. Variants are pinot noir, "black," pinot blanc, "white," and pinot gris, "gray."ETD pinot (n.).2

    pinpoint (n.)

    also pin-point, 1849, "the point of a pin," from pin (n.) + point (n.). Taken into aeronautics in a sense of "place identified from the air" (used to ascertain the position of the aircraft); hence the verb meaning "locate precisely" (1917), which originally was aviators' slang. Related: Pinpointed; pinpointing. As an adjective, "performed with precisional accuracy," 1944, originally of aerial bombing.ETD pinpoint (n.).2

    pinprick (n.)

    also pin-prick, 1851, "the prick of a pin," from pin (n.) + prick (n.). Used figuratively of petty irritations from 1885. Earlier pin's prick (1825).ETD pinprick (n.).2

    pinscher (n.)

    type of short-coated terrier, 1926, from German Pinscher, also Pinsch, which is probably from English pinch, in reference to its "clipped" ears.ETD pinscher (n.).2

    pin-stripe (adj.)

    "fine stripe repeated as a figure on cloth," 1882, from pin (n.), on the notion of long, slender, and straight, + stripe (n.1). Characteristic of the uniforms of many baseball teams from 1907 and after. Suits of pin-stripe cloth being the conventional garb of the mid-20c. businessman, the word came to be figurative of "executive" by 1958.ETD pin-stripe (adj.).2

    pint (n.)

    mid-14c., "liquid measure equal to half a quart;" also "a vessel holding a pint," from Old French pinte "liquid measure, pint" (13c.), probably from Vulgar Latin *pincta (source of Old Provençal, Spanish, Italian pinta, Dutch, German pint), altered from Latin picta "painted," fem. past participle of pingere "to paint" (see paint (v.)), on notion of a painted mark on a vessel indicating this measure. Used elliptically for "pint of ale" (or beer) from 1742. Pint-sized "small" (especially in reference to children) is recorded by 1930; the literal sense is older.ETD pint (n.).2

    pintail (n.)

    type of duck, 1767, from pin (n.) + tail (n.); so called from the peculiarity of the tail (narrow with long central feathers). In Middle English it is given once (c. 1300) as an epithet for the hare.ETD pintail (n.).2

    pintle (n.)

    "the human penis," Old English pintel, a word of uncertain origin; perhaps a diminutive (compare Old Frisian pint, Danish dialectal pint, German Pint). Extended use in reference to a pin or bolt upon which anything revolves is by late 15c.ETD pintle (n.).2

    pinto (n.)

    "a horse marked black and white, a painted pony," 1860, from American Spanish pinto (adj.) "piebald," literally "painted, spotted," from Spanish, from Vulgar Latin *pinctus, variant of Latin pictus "painted," past participle of pingere "to paint" (see paint (v.)). The pinto bean (1916), is so called for its markings.ETD pinto (n.).2

    pin-up (adj.)

    1670s, of clothing, "adapted for being pinned up," from the verbal phrase (attested from mid-15c. in the sense "affix in a prominent place"), from pin (v.) + up (adv.). From 1940, in reference to pictures of "winsome young ladies in daring undress" ("Life," May 6, 1940) such as soldiers pinned up on their dugout walls, etc. The thing itself is older than the name. The noun in this sense is recorded from 1943.ETD pin-up (adj.).2

    pinwheel (n.)

    also pin-wheel, 1690s, "a wheel in the striking train of a clock in which pins are fixed to lift the hammer," from pin (n.) + wheel (n.). The fireworks sense of "long paper case filled with a combustible composition and wound spirally about a disk so that, when supported vertically and lit, it revolves in a wheel of fire" is from 1869.ETD pinwheel (n.).2

    pinworm (n.)

    also pin-worm, "small, thread-like worm," by 1837, from pin (n.) + worm (n.).ETD pinworm (n.).2


    word occurring as part of a marginal note on a painting, noting who painted it, Latin, "(he) painted (this);" third person perfect indicative of pingere "to paint" (see paint (v.)).ETD pinxit.2

    Pinyin (n.)

    system of Romanized spelling for Chinese, 1963, from Chinese pinyin "to spell, to combine sounds into syllables," from pin "put together" + yin "sound, tone." Adopted officially by the People's Republic of China in 1958. Outside China gradually superseding the 19c. Wade-Giles system (Mao Tse-tung is Wade-Giles, Mao Zedong is Pinyin).ETD Pinyin (n.).2

    piolet (n.)

    "ice-axe used by Alpine climbers," 1868, from Savoy French piolet "climber's ice-axe" (19c.), diminutive of piolo "axe," which is perhaps from Medieval Latin piola "plane, scraper."ETD piolet (n.).2

    pion (n.)

    type of subatomic particle, 1951, from Greek letter pi + -on.ETD pion (n.).2

    pioneer (n.)

    1520s, "one of a party or company of foot soldiers furnished with digging and cutting equipment who prepare the way for the army," from French pionnier "foot-soldier, military pioneer," from Old French paonier "foot-soldier" (11c.), extended form of peon (see pawn (n.2)). Figurative sense of "a first or early explorer, person who goes first or does something first" is from c. 1600. Related: Pioneers.ETD pioneer (n.).2

    pioneer (v.)

    "to lead or prepare the way to or for, go before and open (a way)," 1780, from pioneer (n.). Related: Pioneered; pioneering.ETD pioneer (v.).2

    pious (adj.)

    mid-15c., "having or intended to show faith in and reverence for the Supreme Being," from Latin pius "dutiful, devout, conscientious, religious; faithful to kindred; inspired by friendship, prompted by natural affections," perhaps [de Vaan, Klein] related to Latin purus "pure, clean," via a PIE *pu-io- "purifying" (see pure), but the exact development is disputed.ETD pious (adj.).2

    The classical Roman sense of "having or exhibiting due respect and affection for parents and others to whom such is due" is attested in English from 1620s. In the religious sense, sometimes denoting practice under pretense of religion or for good ends (1630s) and in this sense often coupled with fraud (n.). Related: Piously; piousness.ETD pious (adj.).3

    pip (n.3)

    "one of the spots on a playing card, dice, etc.," c. 1600, peep, of unknown origin. Because of the original form and difference of dates, it is now not considered to be from pip (n.1). Related: Pips.ETD pip (n.3).2

    pip (n.2)

    "disease of poultry consisting of a secretion of thick mucus which forms a white scale around the tongue," late 14c., pippe, probably from Middle Dutch pippe "mucus," from West Germanic *pipit (source also of East Frisian pip, Middle High German pfipfiz, German Pips), an early borrowing from Vulgar Latin *pippita, an unexplained alteration of Latin pituita "phlegm" (see pituitary).ETD pip (n.2).2

    pip (n.1)

    1797, "seed of an apple (or orange)," a shortened form of pipin "seed of a fleshy fruit" (early 14c.), from Old French pepin (13c.), probably from a root *pipp-, expressing smallness (compare Italian pippolo, Spanish pepita "seed, kernel").ETD pip (n.1).2

    pipe (v.)

    Old English pipian "to play on a pipe" or similar instrument, from Latin pipare "to peep, chirp," of imitative origin (see pipe (n.1)). Compare Dutch pijpen, German pfeifen.ETD pipe (v.).2

    From 1590s, of birds, "to chirp, warble, whistle, sing." Meaning "convey through pipes" is by 1887. Related: Piped; piping. Piping hot is in Chaucer, a reference to hissing of food in a frying pan.ETD pipe (v.).3

    To pipe up (early 15c.) originally meant "to begin to play" (on a musical instrument); sense of "to speak out" is from 1856. Pipe down "be quiet" is from 1900, probably a reversal of this, but earlier (and concurrently) in nautical jargon it was a bo'sun's whistle signal to dismiss the men from duty (1833); pipe in the nautical sense of "to call by the pipe or whistle" is by 1706.ETD pipe (v.).4

    pipes (n.)

    "voice," 1580s, from pipe (n.1).ETD pipes (n.).2

    pipe (n.1)

    Old English pipe "simple tubular musical wind instrument," also "tube for conveying water," from Vulgar Latin *pipa "a pipe, tube-shaped musical instrument" (source also of Italian pipa, French pipe, Old Frisian pipe, German Pfeife, Danish pibe, Swedish pipa, Dutch pijp), a back-formation from Latin pipare "to chirp or peep," of imitative origin.ETD pipe (n.1).2

    All the tubular senses ultimately derive from the meaning "small reed, whistle." From late 14c. as "a tube or duct of the body." From mid-15c. as "one of the tubes from which the tones of an organ are produced." Meaning "narrow tubular device for smoking" is recorded by 1590s. As "the sound of the voice," 1570s.ETD pipe (n.1).3

    Pipe-bomb, "home-made bomb contained in a metal pipe," is attested from 1960. Pipe-cleaner, "piece of wire coated with tufted material," is recorded from 1863. Pipe-clay "white clay suitable for making smoking pipes" is attested by 1777.ETD pipe (n.1).4

    pipe (n.2)

    early 14c., "type of cask, large storage container;" mid-14c., "large vessel for storing wine," from Old French pipe "liquid measure, cask for wine," from a special use of Vulgar Latin *pipa "a pipe" (see pipe (n.1)).ETD pipe (n.2).2

    pipe dream (n.)

    the sort of improbable fantasy one has while smoking opium, 1870, from pipe (n.1) in the smoking sense + dream (n.). Old English pipdream meant "piping," from dream in the sense of "music."ETD pipe dream (n.).2

    pipe-fish (n.)

    also pipefish, fish with a long, tubular snout, by 1769, from pipe (n.1) + fish (n.).ETD pipe-fish (n.).2

    pipeline (n.)

    1859, "continuous conduit of pipes chiefly laid underground," from pipe (n.1) + line (n.). Figurative sense of "channel of communication" is from 1921; surfer slang meaning "hollow part of a large wave" is attested by 1963.ETD pipeline (n.).2

    piper (n.)

    "one who plays the pipes," Old English pipere, agent noun from pipe (v.). By late 14c. also "a bag-piper." As a kind of fish, from c. 1600. Figurative expression pay the piper is recorded from 1680s.ETD piper (n.).2

    pipette (n.)

    also pipet, "small tube used to withdraw and transfer fluids or gasses from one vessel to another," 1818, from French pipette, originally "tube," diminutive of Old French pipe, from Vulgar Latin *pipa (see pipe (n.1)). In Middle English, pipet is "small musical pipe" (late 15c.; early 14c. as a surname).ETD pipette (n.).2

    pippin (n.)

    "excellent person or thing," 1897, a sense extended from coveted varieties of apple that were raised from seed (so called since late 14c.), from Middle English pipin "seed of certain fruits" (see pip (n.1)).ETD pippin (n.).2


    slangy salutation current in Britain c. 1907-1923, said by Partridge to be in imitation of bicycle horn noise.ETD pip-pip.2

    pipsqueak (n.)

    also pip-squeak, contemptuous name for an insignificant person, 1910, from the trivial noise a young or weak creature makes. In World War I it was the soldier's slang name for a small German shell "which makes both a pip and a squeak when it comes over the trenches" [Farrow, "Dictionary of Military Terms," 1918]. Pip and Squeak (and later Wilfred), the beloved English comic strip animals, debuted May 1919 in the children's section of the Daily Mirror. To squeeze (something) until the pips squeak "exact the maximum from" is attested by 1918, from pip (n.1).ETD pipsqueak (n.).2

    pique (n.)

    1530s, "slight offense taken; feeling of displeasure, resentment, etc. arising from wounded pride, vanity, or self-love," from French pique "a prick, sting, irritation," noun of action from piquer (see pike (n.1)).ETD pique (n.).2

    pique (v.)

    "to nettle, irritate, offend; stimulate to action by arousing envy, jealousy, etc., in a slight degree," 1670s, from French piquer "to prick, sting" (see pike (n.1)). Softened meaning "to stimulate, excite" is from 1690s. Related: Piqued; piquing.ETD pique (v.).2

    piquancy (n.)

    "piquant quality; pleasing cleverness or raciness; keenness, sharpness, tartness," 1660s, from piquant + abstract noun suffix -cy.ETD piquancy (n.).2

    piquant (adj.)

    1520s, "sharp or stinging to the feelings" (a sense now obsolete), from French piquant "pricking, stimulating, irritating," present participle of piquer "to prick, sting, nettle" (see pike (n.1)). From 1640s as "of agreeable pungency or sharpness of taste or flavor;" by 1690s as "of smart, lively, or racy nature." Related: Piquantly.ETD piquant (adj.).2

    piquet (n.)

    complicated two-person game played with a 32-card pack, 1640s, from French piquet, picquet (16c.), a name of uncertain origin, as are many card-game names, and it comes trailing the usual cloud of fanciful and absurd speculations. Perhaps it is a diminutive of pic "pick, pickaxe, pique," from the suit of spades, or from the phrase faire pic, a term said to be used in the game. In the game, a pique was a winning of 30 points before one's opponent scored at all in the same hand. But its earlier name in French (16c.) was Cent, from its target score of 100 points. The classic aristocratic two-handed game, and the unofficial national card game of France, it faded after World War I in the face of simpler, more democratic games. Compare kaput.ETD piquet (n.).2

    piracy (n.)

    early 15c., "robbery upon the sea, the practice of robbing on the high seas," from Medieval Latin piratia, from classical Latin, Greek peirateia "piracy," from peiratēs "brigand, pirate" (see pirate (n.)).ETD piracy (n.).2

    piranha (n.)

    also pirana, piraya, "voracious carnivorous fish of tropical America," 1869, from Portuguese piranha, from Tupi (Brazil) pira nya, probably literally "biting-fish," with pira "fish."ETD piranha (n.).2

    pirate (n.)

    c. 1300 (mid-13c. as a surname), "a sea-robber, sea-plunderer, one who without authority and by violence seizes or interferes with the ship or property of another on the sea," especially one who is habitually engaged in such robbery or sails the seas for the robbery and plunder of merchant vessels, from Old French pirate and directly from Medieval Latin pirata "sailor, corsair, sea robber" (source also of Spanish, Italian pirata, Dutch piraat, German Pirat), from classical Latin, from Greek peiratēs "brigand, pirate," literally "one who attacks" (ships), from peiran "to attack, make a hostile attempt on, try," from peira "trial, an attempt, attack" (from PIE *per-ya-, suffixed form of root *per- (3) "to try, risk").ETD pirate (n.).2

    An Old English word for it was sæsceaða ("sea-scather"); a pirate-ship was a ðeofscip ("thief-ship"). Figurative sense of "plunderer, despoiler" is from late 15c. Meaning "one who takes another's work without permission" first recorded 1701; sense of "unlicensed radio broadcaster" (generally transmitting from a ship outside territorial waters) is from 1913.ETD pirate (n.).3

    piratical (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to a pirate or piracy; engaged in piracy," 1570s, from Latin piraticus "pertaining to pirates," from Greek peiratikos, from peiratēs "pirate" (see pirate (n.)) + -ical. Related: Piratic; piratically (1540s).ETD piratical (adj.).2

    pirate (v.)

    "to rob on the high seas; commit piracy upon," 1570s, from pirate (n.). By 1706 as "appropriate and reproduce the literary or artistic work of another without right or permission; infringe on the copyright of another." Related: Pirated; pirating.ETD pirate (v.).2

    pirl (v.)

    "to twist, wind, spin" (thread, etc.), mid-14c. (implied in pirling "revolving"), a word of uncertain origin, perhaps from Old Norse; The Middle English Compendium compares Norwegian purla "spring forth, gush." Compare pern. Related: Pirled.ETD pirl (v.).2

    pirogi (n.)

    also pierogi, pirog, "Polish ravioli; small dumpling made of dough stuffed with potato, cheese, etc.," 1854, via Yiddish, from Russian, plural of pirog "pie," perhaps borrowed from the Turkic language of the Kazan Tatars (compare Turkish borek). But Watkins and Ayto say from Old Church Slavonic pirŭ "feast," from PIE root *po(i)- "to drink." The plural form has become singular in English.ETD pirogi (n.).2

    pirogue (n.)

    "canoe made from the trunk of a hollowed-out tree," 1660s, from French pirogue, from a West Indian language, probably from Galibi (a Carib language) piragua "a dug-out." Compare Spanish piragua (1530s), which might be the intermediate form for the French word. The word was extended to all type of native open boats.ETD pirogue (n.).2

    pirouette (n.)

    in dancing, "a rapid whirling on one leg or on the points of the toes," 1706, from French pirouette "pirouette in dancing," originally "spinning top" (15c.), from Gallo-Roman root *pir- "peg, plug" (source of Italian piruolo "peg top") + diminutive suffix -ette. Hence, probably, U.S. Civil War slang piroot "to move or travel listlessly or aimlessly" (1863).ETD pirouette (n.).2

    pirouette (v.)

    "to turn or whirl on one leg or on the toes," 1799 (implied in pirouetting), from pirouette (n.) and also from French pirouetter. Related: Pirouetted.ETD pirouette (v.).2


    Italian city, from Etruscan, of uncertain meaning. Related: Pisan.ETD Pisa.2

    pis aller (n.)

    "last resource, what one would do at the worst," 1670s, French, literally "to go worse," from pis "worse," from Latin peius, neuter of peior "worse" (see pejorative) + aller "to go" (see alley (n.1)).ETD pis aller (n.).2

    Pisces (n.)

    ancient constellation, 12th sign of the zodiac, representing two fishes united by a cord attached to their tails, late Old English, from Latin pisces, plural of piscis "a fish" (from PIE root *pisk- "a fish"). Applied to persons born under this sign by 1924 (also Piscean).ETD Pisces (n.).2

    piscatology (n.)

    "scientific study of fish, ichthyology," 1857, a jocular hybrid from Latin piscatus, past participle of piscari "to fish," from pisces "a fish" (from PIE root *pisk- "a fish") + -ology.ETD piscatology (n.).2

    piscatory (adj.)

    "pertaining to fishing or fishermen," 1630s, from Latin piscatorius "of fishermen," from piscator "fisherman," from piscari "to fish," from pisces "a fish," from PIE root *pisk- "a fish."ETD piscatory (adj.).2

    piscatorial (adj.)

    "pertaining to fishing or fishermen," 1750, from piscatory + -ial. or else from French piscatorial, from Latin piscatorius. Related: Piscatorially.ETD piscatorial (adj.).2

    piscine (n.)

    early 14c., "natural or artificial reservoir for water, bathing pool," from Old French piscine "fishpond," from Latin piscina, from piscis "a fish" (from PIE root *pisk- "a fish"). The ecclesiastical sense (also piscina) "stone basin in a church placed close to the altar and used to receive the water in which the priest washed his hands before the celebration of the eucharist" is from late 15c., from Medieval Latin piscina. As an adjective from 1799.ETD piscine (n.).2

    piscivorous (adj.)

    "fish-eating, habitually feeding upon fish," 1660s, from Latin piscis "a fish" (from PIE root *pisk- "a fish") + -vorous "eating, devouring."ETD piscivorous (adj.).2


    name of the mountain east of the River Jordan, whence Moses was allowed to view the Promised Land he could not enter (Deuteronomy iii.27); with figurative use from 1640s. The name is Hebrew, literally "cleft."ETD Pisgah.2

    pish (interj.)

    exclamation of contempt, attested from 1590s.ETD pish (interj.).2


    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "a fish."ETD *pisk-.2

    It forms all or part of: fish; fishnet; grampus; piscatory; Pisces; piscine; porpoise.ETD *pisk-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin piscis (source of Italian pesce, French poisson, Spanish pez, Welsh pysgodyn, Breton pesk); Old Irish iasc; Old English fisc, Old Norse fiskr, Gothic fisks.ETD *pisk-.4

    pismire (n.)

    "ant," late 14c., pisse-mire (early 14c. as a surname, Henricus pessemere), from pyss "urine" (said to be in reference to the acrid smell of an anthill) + mire "an ant" (mid-13c., early 13c. as a surname), perhaps from an unattested Old English word or from Old Norse maurr "ant" (cognate with Swedish myra, Danish myre, Middle Dutch miere, Dutch mier, Crimean Gothic miera "ant"), from PIE *morwi- (see Formica (2)). Compare pissant, also Old Frisian pis-imme, Norwegian migemaur (first element from Latin mingere); early Dutch mierseycke (with seycke "urine"), Finnish kusiainen (with kusi "urine").ETD pismire (n.).2

    Applied contemptuously to persons from 1560s.ETD pismire (n.).3

    Pismo Beach

    place in California; according to Bright, the name is Obsipeño (Chumashan) /pismu'/ "tar, asphalt," literally "the dark stuff," from /piso'/ "to be black, dark."ETD Pismo Beach.2

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