- piddle (v.)
- 1540s, "to peddle, to work in a trifling way," of uncertain origin, apparently a frequentative form. Meaning "to pick at one's food" is from 1610s; that of "urinate" is from 1796. Related: Piddled; piddler; piddling.
- piddling (adj.)
- "insignificant, trifling," 1550s, past participle adjective from piddle (v.).
- pidgin (n.)
- 1876, from pigeon English (1859), the reduced form of the language used in China for communication with Europeans, from pigeon (1826), itself a pidgin word, representing a Chinese pronunciation of business. Meaning extended 1891 to "any simplified language."
- pie (n.1)
- "pastry," mid-14c. (probably older; piehus "bakery" is attested from late 12c.), from Medieval Latin pie "meat or fish enclosed in pastry" (c.1300), perhaps related to Medieval Latin pia "pie, pastry," also possibly connected with pica "magpie" (see pie (n.2)) on notion of the bird's habit of collecting miscellaneous objects. Figurative of "something to be shared out" by 1967.
According to OED, not known outside English, except Gaelic pighe, which is from English. In the Middle Ages, a pie had many ingredients, a pastry but one. Fruit pies began to appear c.1600. Figurative sense of "something easy" is from 1889. Pie-eyed "drunk" is from 1904. Phrase pie in the sky is 1911, from Joe Hill's Wobbly parody of hymns. Pieman is not attested earlier than the nursery rhyme "Simple Simon" (c.1820). Pie chart is from 1922.
- pie (n.2)
- "magpie," mid-13c. (late 12c. as a surname), from Old French pie (13c.), from Latin pica "magpie" (see magpie). In 16c., a wily pie was a "cunning person."
- pie (n.3)
- also pi, printers' slang for "a mass of type jumbled together" (also pi, pye), 1650s, perhaps from pie (n.1) on notion of a "medley," or pie (n.2); compare pica (n.1). As a verb from 1870. Related: Pied.
- piebald (adj.)
- "of two different colors," 1580s, formed from pie (n.2) "magpie" + bald in its older sense of "spotted, white;" in reference to the black-and-white plumage of the magpie. Hence, "of mixed character, mongrel." Technically only of black-and-white colorings.
- piece (n.)
- c.1200, "fixed amount, measure, portion," from Old French piece "piece, bit portion; item; coin" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *pettia, probably from Gaulish *pettsi (compare Welsh peth "thing," Breton pez "piece, a little"), perhaps from an Old Celtic base *kwezd-i-, from PIE root *kwezd- "a part, piece" (cognates: Russian chast' "part"). Related: Pieces.
Sense of "portable firearm" first recorded 1580s; that of "chessman" is from 1560s. Meaning "person regarded as a sex object" is first recorded 1785 (compare piece of ass, human beings colloquially called piece of flesh from 1590s; also compare Latin scortum "bimbo, anyone available for a price," literally "skin"). Meaning "a portion of a distance" is from 1610s; that of "literary composition" dates from 1530s. Piece of (one's) mind is from 1570s. Piece of work "remarkable person" echoes Hamlet. Piece as "a coin" is attested in English from 1570s, hence Piece of eight, old name for the Spanish dollar (c.1600) of the value of 8 reals.
PIECE. A wench. A damned good or bad piece; a girl who is more or less active and skilful in the amorous congress. Hence the (Cambridge) toast, may we never have a PIECE (peace) that will injure the constitution. ["Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit and Pickpocket Eloquence," London, 1811]
- piece (v.)
- "to mend by adding pieces," late 14c., from piece (n.). Sense of "to join, unite, put together" is from late 15c. Related: Pieced; piecing.
- piece de resistance (n.)
- 1831, from French pièce de résistance, originally "the most substantial dish in a meal." Lit. "piece of resistance;" there seems to be disagreement as to the exact signification.
- piecemeal (adv.)
- c.1300 (originally two words), from piece (n.) + Old English mælum "at a time," dative plural of mæl "appointed time, food served" (see meal (n.1)). The second element once was more commonly used, as in Old English styccemælum "bit by bit," gearmælum "year by year." One-word form from 15c.
- piecework (n.)
- also piece-work, 1540s, from piece (n.) + work (n.).
- pied (adj.)
- late 14c., as if it were the past participle of a verb form of Middle English noun pie "magpie" (see pie (n.2)), in reference to the bird's black and white plumage. Earliest use is in reference to the pyed freres, an order of friars who wore black and white. Also in pied piper (1845, in Browning's poem based on the German legend; used allusively by 1939).
- pied a terre (n.)
- "small town house or rooms used for short residences," 1829, French, pied à terre, literally "foot on the ground."
- piedmont (n.)
- name given to the fertile upland region along the eastern slope of the Appalachians, 1755, originally piemont, from Italian Piemonte, literally "mountain foot," name of the region at the foot of the Alps in northern Italy (see Piedmont). With -d- added by 1855. Applied to similar features of other mountain ranges by 1860.
- region in northern Italy, from Old Italian pie di monte "foot of the mountains," from pie "foot" (see foot (n.)) + monte "mountain" (see mount (n.)). Related: Piedmontese.
- piepowder (n.)
- early 13c., "wayfarer, itinerant merchant, etc.," folk etymology alteration of Old French pie pouldre or Medieval Latin pede-pulverosus, both literally "dusty-footed" (see foot (n.) + powder (n.)).
- pier (n.)
- mid-12c., "support of a span of a bridge," from Medieval Latin pera, of unknown origin, perhaps from Old North French pire "a breakwater," from Vulgar Latin *petricus, from Latin petra "rock" (see petrous), but OED is against this. Meaning "solid structure in a harbor, used as a landing place for vessels," is attested from mid-15c.
- pierce (v.)
- late 13c. "make a hole in; force one's way through," from Anglo-French perser, Old French percier "pierce, transfix, drive through" (12c., Modern French percer), probably from Vulgar Latin *pertusiare, frequentative of Latin pertusus, past participle of pertundere "to thrust or bore through," from per- "through" (see per) + tundere "to beat, pound," from PIE *tund-, from root *(s)teu- "to push, strike, knock, beat, thrust" (see obtuse). Related: Pierced; piercing.
- pierced (adj.)
- c.1400, past participle adjective from pierce (v.).
- piercer (n.)
- early 15c., agent noun from pierce (v.).
- piercing (adj.)
- in reference to cold, sound, etc., early 15c., present participle adjective from pierce (v.). Figuratively, of pain, grief, etc., from late 14c. Related: Piercingly.
- piercing (n.)
- late 14c., verbal noun from pierce (v.).
- Pierian (adj.)
- literally "of Pieria," 1590s, from Latin Pierius "Pieria," from Greek Pieria, district in northern Thessaly, reputed home of the Muses; thus "pertaining to poetry."
A little Learning is a dang'rous Thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring:
[Pope, "Essay on Criticism," 1711]
- Modern French form of masc. proper name represented in Modern English by Peter (q.v.). The city in South Dakota, U.S., was named for Pierre Chouteau (1789-1865) who set up an Indian trading post here in 1837.
- pierrot (n.)
- stock character in French pantomime, in English, "a buffoon," from French Pierrot, diminutive of Pierre; considered a typical name of a French peasant.
- common Old French form of masc. proper name Peter (q.v.).
- Pieta (n.)
- "Virgin holding the dead body of Christ," 1640s, from Italian pieta, from Latin pietatem (see piety).
- pietism (n.)
- also Pietism, 1690s, from German Pietismus, originally applied in derision to the movement to revive personal piety in the Lutheran Church, begun in Frankfurt c.1670 by Philipp Jakob Spener (1635-1705). See piety + -ism.
- pietist (n.)
- also Pietist, 1690s; see pietism + -ist. As an adjective from 1705.
- pietistic (adj.)
- 1804, from pietist + -ic. Related: Pietistical.
- piety (n.)
- early 14c. (late 12c. as a surname), "mercy, tenderness, pity," from Old French piete "piety, faith; pity, compassion" (12c.), from Latin pietatem (nominative pietas) "dutiful conduct, sense of duty; religiousness, piety; loyalty, patriotism; faithfulness to natural ties," in Late Latin "gentleness, kindness, pity;" from pius "kind" (see pious). Meaning "piousness" attested in English from c.1600. Also see pity (n.).
- word-forming element meaning "pressure," from comb. form of Greek piezein "to press tight, squeeze," from PIE *pi-sed-yo- "to sit upon" (cognates: Sanskrit pidayati "presses, oppresses"), from *pi "on," short for *epi (see epi-) + *sed- (1) "to sit" (see sedentary). First in piezometer (1820); in common use in word formation from c.1900.
- piezoelectric (adj.)
- 1883, from piezoelectricity, from German piezoelectricität (Wilhelm G. Hankel, 1881), from piezo- + electric. As a noun from 1913.
- piffle (v.)
- 1847, of unknown origin, perhaps an alteration of trifle, by influence of piddle, etc. Or perhaps imitative of a puff of air, with a diminutive suffix. As a noun by 1890.
- pig (n.)
- probably from Old English *picg, found in compounds, ultimate origin unknown. Originally "young pig" (the word for adults was swine). Apparently related to Low German bigge, Dutch big ("but the phonology is difficult" -- OED). The meaning "oblong piece of metal" is first attested 1580s, on the notion of "large mass." Applied to persons, usually in contempt, since 1540s; the derogatory slang meaning "police officer" has been in underworld slang since at least 1811.
The pigs frisked my panney, and nailed my screws; the officers searched my house, and seized my picklock keys. ["Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit and Pickpocket Eloquence," London, 1811]
Another Old English word for "pig" was fearh, related to furh "furrow," from PIE *perk- "dig, furrow" (source also of Latin porc-us "pig," see pork). "This reflects a widespread IE tendency to name animals from typical attributes or activities" [Lass]. Synonyms grunter, porker are from sailors' and fishermen's euphemistic avoidance of uttering the word pig at sea, a superstition perhaps based on the fate of the Gadarene swine, who drowned. The image of a pig in a poke is attested from 1520s (see poke (n.3)). Flying pigs as a type of something unreal is from 1610s.
- pig (v.)
- 1670s, "to huddle together," from pig (n.). Related: Pigged; pigging. To pig out "eat voraciously" attested by 1979.
- pig iron (n.)
- 1660s; see pig (n.) + iron (n.).
- Pig Latin (n.)
- childish deformed language (there are many different versions), by 1889 (hog Latin in same sense by 1807).
The animals play quite an important part in the naming [of children's languages], as the hog, dog, fly, goose, pigeon, pig, all give names, with Mr. Hog leading. Among the names the Latins take the lead, and Hog Latin leads the list, being accredited as naming nearly as many languages as all the other names combined. Besides Hog Latin, there is Dog Latin, Pig Latin, Goose Latin, and Bum Latin. Then there is Greekish and Peddlers' French and Pigeon English. ... Very few can give any reason for the naming of the languages. In fact, no one can fully say where the great majority of names came from, for in most cases in the naming the following pretty well expresses the difficulty: "It was born before I was. I can't tell how young I was when I first heard of it." ["The Secret Language of Children," in "The North Western Monthly," October 1897]
- pigeon (n.)
- late 14c. (early 13c. as a surname), from Old French pigeon "young dove" (13c.), probably from Vulgar Latin *pibionem, dissimilation from Late Latin pipionem (nominative pipio) "squab, young chirping bird" (3c.), from pipire "to peep, chirp," of imitative origin. Meaning "one easily duped" is from 1590s. Replaced culver (Old English culufre, from Vulgar Latin *columbra, from Latin columbula) and native dove.
- pigeon-hole (n.)
- also pigeonhole, 1570s, "a small recess for pigeons to nest in," from pigeon + hole (n.). Meaning "a compartment in a writing desk," etc. is from 1680s, based on resemblance. The verb is from 1840 literally; figurative sense of "label mentally" is from 1870.
[Y]ou will have an inspector after you with note-book and ink-horn, and you will be booked and pigeon-holed for further use when wanted. ["Civilisation--The Census," "Blackwood's Magazine," Oct. 1854]
- pigeon-toed (adj.)
- 1788, originally of horses; see pigeon.
- piggish (adj.)
- 1792, from pig (n.) + -ish. Until 20c. usually "stubborn, selfish; unclean, coarse;" association with greedy eating is more recent. Related: Piggishly; piggishness.
- chain of self-service grocery stores, started 1916 in Memphis. According to founder's reminiscence from 1921 arbitrary coinage, simply "something different from anything used before" ["Current Opinion"].
- piggy (adj.)
- "resembling a pig," 1841, from pig (n.) + -y (2).
- piggy (n.)
- "a little pig," 1799, from pig (n.) + -y (3). Related: Piggies. Piggy bank attested from 1941 (pig bank from 1937).
- piggyback (adj.)
- 1823, probably a folk etymology alteration of pick pack (1560s), which perhaps is from pick, a dialectal variant of pitch (v.1). As a verb from 1952.
- pigheaded (adj.)
- also pig-headed; 1756, "having a head resembling a pig;" 1788 as "obstinate;" see pig (n.) + head (n.). Usually, but not always, figurative.
A pig-headed man must be one, who, like a driven pig, always will do exactly the opposite to what other people--in the case of the pig his luckless driver--wish him to do, that is to say he is an obstinate man. ["The Sedberghian," June 1882]
- piglet (n.)
- 1883, from pig (n.) + diminutive suffix -let. Earlier name for baby pig was farrow.
- pigment (n.)
- late 14c., from Latin pigmentum "coloring matter, pigment, paint," figuratively "prnament," from stem of pingere "to color, paint" (see paint (v.)). Variants of this word could have been known in Old English (compare 12c. pyhmentum). As a verb from 1900. Related: Pigmented; pigmenting.