1. A meal eaten outdoors, as on an excursion.
2. Slang An easy task or pleasant experience: finishing the project on time was no picnic.
3. A smoked section of pork foreleg and shoulder.
intr.v. pic·nicked, pic·nick·ing, pic·nics
To go on or participate in a picnic.
[French pique-nique, potluck, meal at which all persons pay for their own portion, picnic : piquer, to pick, nab (from Middle French, from Old French; see PIQUE) + nique, nothing at all, child's tooth, sign of contempt made by moving the head (from Middle French, nothing at all, from Old French nic; akin to Portuguese nica, bagatelles, insignificant things, from the widespread Romance root *nik-expressing indifference or contempt).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.