Word Origin & History
O.E. *pician "to prick," merged with O.N. pikka "to prick, peck," common Gmc. (cf. M.Du. picken, Ger. picken "to pick, peck"), from PIE *pik-/*pek-, an imitative base. The meaning "to choose, select, pick out" emerged late 14c., from earlier meaning "to pluck with the fingers" (early 14c.). To pick a
quarrel, etc. is from mid-15c.; to pick at "find fault with" is from c.1670. Pick on "single out for adverse attention" is from late 14c.; to pick (someone) up "make someone's acquaintance aggressively for sexual purposes" is first recorded 1690s. Pick off "shoot one by one" is recorded from 1810; baseball sense of "to put out a runner on base" is from 1939. Pickpocket is from 1591 (earlier pick-purse, late 14c.). Pick-me-up "stimulating alcoholic drink" is attested from 1867. Picky first recorded 1867.
c.1300, pyk "pikestaff," variant of pike
(2). Pic "pickaxe" is attested from mid-14c. Sense of "plectrum for a guitar, lute, etc." is from 1895; as a type of basketball block it is attested from 1951. Meaning "choicest part or example" is first recorded 1760, from pick (v.).