Word Origin & History
"size of type of about six lines to the inch" (12 point), 1588, probably from M.L. pica, name of a book of rules in Church of England for determining holy days (1497, in Anglo-L.), probably from L. pica "magpie;" the book so called perhaps from the color and the "pied" look of the old type on close-printed
pages. The type size was that generally used to print ordinals.
"pathological craving for substance unfit for food" (such as chalk), 1563, from M.L. pica "magpie," probably translating Gk. kissa, kitta "magpie, jay," also "false appetite." The connecting notion may be the birds' indiscriminate feeding.