|In contemporary usage, picnic can be defined simply as a
pleasure excursion at which a meal is eaten outdoors, ideally, taking place
in a beautiful landscape.
Formerly, picnic meant a potluck, an entertainment at which each person contributed some dish to a common table for all to share. The first usage of the word was traced to a 16th century French text, describing a group of people dining in a restaurant who brought their own wine. A theory has it that the word picnic is based on the verb piquer which means 'pick' or 'peck' with the rhyming nique perhaps meaning trifle.
The 1692 edition of Origines de la Langue Françoise de Ménage, which mentions 'piquenique' as being of recent origin, marks the first appearance of the word in print. The word picnic first appeared in English texts in the mid-1700s, and may have entered the English language from this French word or from the German Picknick.