in bullfighting, one of the horsemen, armed with a lance, who commence the combat by pricking the animal to madness with their weapons, 1797, from Spanish picador, literally "pricker," from picar "to pierce," from Vulgar Latin *piccare "to pierce" (see pike (n.1)).
"to joust," 1590s, from tilt (n.1). Related: Tilted; tilting. The figurative sense of tilting at windmills is suggested in English by 1798; the image is from Don Quixote, who mistook them for giants.
So saying, and heartily recommending himself to his lady Dulcinea, whom he implored to succour him in this emergency, bracing on his target, and setting his lance in the rest, he put his Rozinante to full speed, and assaulting the nearest windmill, thrust it into one of the sails, which was drove about by the wind with so much fury, that the lance was shivered to pieces, and both knight and steed whirled aloft, and overthrown in very bad plight upon the plain. [Smollett translation, 1755]
"long, narrow flag" (often triangular or swallow-tailed, attached to a lance and having distinguishing markings), late 14c., penoun, from Old French penon "feathers of an arrow; streamer, flag, banner," from penne "feather," from Latin penna "feather" (from PIE root *pet- "to rush, to fly"). In medieval Europe, the flag of a knight-bachelor or one who has not reached the dignity of a banneret.
"weapon with a penetrating head and a long wooden shaft, meant to be thrust or thrown," Old English spere "spear, javelin, lance," from Proto-Germanic *sperō (source also of Old Norse spjör, Old Saxon, Old Frisian sper, Dutch speer, Old High German sper, German Speer "spear"), from PIE root *sper- (1) "spear, pole" (source also of Old Norse sparri "spar, rafter," and perhaps also Latin sparus "hunting spear").
The origin of the ethnic name is uncertain; it traditionally is said to be from the old Germanic word *frankon "javelin, lance" (compare Old English franca "lance, javelin"), their preferred weapon, but the reverse may be the case. Compare also Saxon, traditionally from root of Old English seax "knife." The adjectival sense of "free, at liberty" (see frank (adj.)) probably developed from the tribal name, not the other way round. It was noted by 1680s that, in the Levant, this was the name given to anyone of Western nationality (compare Feringhee and lingua franca).