Word Origin & History
late O.E. ploccian "pull off, cull," from W.Gmc. *plokken (cf. M.L.G. plucken, M.Du. plocken, Flem. plokken), perhaps from V.L. *piluccare (cf. O.Fr. peluchier, c.1180), a frequentative, ultimately from L. pilare "pull out hair," from pilus "hair." But despite the similarities, OED finds difficulties
with this and cites gaps in historical evidence. Noun sense of "courage, boldness" (1785) is originally boxing slang, from meaning "heart, viscera" (1611) as that which is "plucked" from slaughtered livestock. Perhaps infl. by fig. use in pluck up (one's courage, etc.), attested from c.1300. Hence, plucky (1842).
"To pluck a rose, an expression said to be used by women for going to the necessary house, which in the country usually stands in the garden." [F. Grose, "Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1785]
This euphemistic use is attested from 1613.