Etymology
Advertisement
pica (n.1)

"size of printing type of about six lines to the inch" (12 point), 1580s, probably from pica, the name of a book of rules in the Church of England for determining holy days (late 15c. in Anglo-Latin). This is probably from Latin pica "magpie" (see pie (n.2)); the book so called perhaps from the color and the "pied" look of the old type on close-printed pages. The type size was that generally used to print ordinals.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
pica (n.2)

"pathological craving for substance unfit for food" (such as chalk), 1560s, from Medieval Latin pica "magpie" (see pie (n.2)), probably translating Greek kissa, kitta "magpie, jay," also "false appetite." The connecting notion may be the birds' indiscriminate feeding. Compare geophagy.

As the magpie eats young birds, here is the bird to keep the sparrows' numbers in check, for it will live in towns and close to dwellings—just the localities sparrows frequent. The magpie's appetite is omnivorous, and it is charged with at times killing weakly lambs, and varying its diet by partaking of grain and fruit; but I never at Home heard any complaints of this bird from the farmers, whilst the gamekeepers had not a good word for it. The bird will eat carrion, so if one were disturbed taking a meal from a dead lamb it would probably be blamed for its death, which may have occurred from natural causes. [A. Bathgate, "The Sparrow Plague and its Remedy," in Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, 1903]
Related entries & more 
pie (n.2)

"magpie," mid-13c. (late 12c. as a surname), from Old French pie (13c.), from Latin pica "magpie" (see magpie).

Related entries & more 
pie (n.3)

printers' slang for "a mass of type jumbled together" (also pi, pye), 1650s, perhaps from pie (n.1) on notion of a "medley," or pie (n.2); but compare pica (n.1). As a verb from 1870. Related: Pied.

Related entries & more 
geophagy (n.)

"dirt-eating," 1820, from Greek *geophagia (according to OED the actual Greek is geotragia), from geo-, combining form of "earth" (see Gaia) + phagein "to eat." See also pica (n.2).

A diseased appetite ... prevails in several parts of Alabama, where they eat clay. I heard various speculations on the origin of this singular propensity, called 'geophagy' in some medical books. [Lyell, "Second Visit to U.S.," 1850]
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
pike (n.1)

"weapon with a long shaft and a pointed metal head," 1510s, from French pique "a spear; pikeman," from piquer "to pick, puncture, pierce," from Old French pic "sharp point or spike," a general continental term (Spanish pica, Italian picca, Provençal piqua), perhaps ultimately from a Germanic [Barnhart] or Celtic source (see pike (n.2)). An alternative explanation traces the Old French word (via Vulgar Latin *piccare "to prick, pierce") to Latin picus "woodpecker." No doubt, too, there is influence from pike (n.1), which by 1200 had a sense of "spiked staff."

"Formerly the chief weapon of a large part of the infantry; in the 18th c. superseded by the bayonet" [OED]; hence old expressions such as pass through pikes "come through difficulties, run the gauntlet;" push of pikes "close-quarters combat." German Pike, Dutch piek, Danish pik, etc. are from French pique.

Related entries & more 
pie (n.1)

c. 1300 (probably older; piehus "bakery" is attested from late 12c.), "baked dish of pastry filled with a preparation of meats, spices, etc., covered with a thick layer of pastry and baked," from Medieval Latin pie "meat or fish enclosed in pastry" (c. 1300), which is perhaps related to Medieval Latin pia "pie, pastry," also possibly connected with pica "magpie" (see pie (n.2)) on notion of the bird's habit of collecting miscellaneous objects.

According to the OED, the word is not known outside English with the exception of Gaelic pighe, which is from English. In the Middle Ages, a pie had many ingredients, a pastry but one. Fruit pies began to appear c. 1600.

The word in the figurative sense of "something easy" is from 1889. Slice of the pie in the figurative sense of  "something to be shared out" is by 1967. Pie-eyed "drunk" is from 1904. Phrase pie in the sky is attested by 1911, from Joe Hill's Wobbly parody of hymns. Pieman "baker or seller of pies" is by c. 1300 as a surname. Pie chart is from 1922.

Related entries & more 
magpie (n.)

popular name of a common bird of Europe, Asia, and America, known for its chattering, acquisitiveness, curiosity, and mimicry, c. 1600, earlier simply pie (mid-13c.).

The first element is Mag, nickname for Margaret, long used in proverbial and slang English for qualities associated generally with women, especially in this case "idle chattering" (as in Magge tales "tall tales, nonsense," early 15c.; also compare French margot "magpie," from Margot, pet form of Marguerite). The name Margaret, and its reduced forms Mag, Madge, diminutive Maggie, also has long been familiarly applied to birds. Pies were proverbial since Middle English for chattering (as were jays), hence the application of pie to a prattling gossip or tattler, also "sly person, informer" (late 14c.) and in 15c.-16c. a wily pie (or wyly pye) was "a cunning person."

The second element, pie, is the earlier name of the bird, from Old French pie, from Latin pica "magpie" (source also of Spanish pega), fem. of picus "woodpecker," from PIE root *(s)peik- "woodpecker, magpie" (source also of Umbrian peica "magpie," Sanskrit pikah "Indian cuckoo," Old Norse spætr, German Specht "woodpecker"); possibly from PIE root *pi-, denoting pointedness, of the beak. The application to pies might be because the magpie also has a long, pointed tail.

The birds are proverbial for pilfering and hoarding and for their indiscriminate appetites (see pica (n.2)); they can be taught to speak, and have been regarded since the Middle Ages as ill omens.

Whan pyes chatter vpon a house it is a sygne of ryghte euyll tydynges. [1507]

Divination by numbering magpies is attested from c. 1780 in Lincolnshire; the rhyme varies from place to place, the only consistency being that one is bad, two are good.

The councils which magpies appear to hold together, at particular seasons, commonly called "folkmotes," are associated in the minds of many with superstitious and ominous notions. The innocent objects of terror, while meeting together most probably for the purpose of choosing mates, are supposed to be conspiring and clubbing their wits, for the weal or woe of the inhabitants of the neighbouring village. If they are of an even number and carry on their cheerful, noisy chatter, it is supposed to betoken good to old and young—but if there is an odd magpie perched apart from the rest, silent, and disconsolate, the reverse of this is apprehended, and mischievous consequences are inevitably expected. [The Saturday Magazine, Jan. 23, 1841]
Related entries & more 
point (n.)
Origin and meaning of point

c. 1200, pointe, "minute amount, single item in a whole; sharp end of a sword, etc.," a merger of two words, both ultimately from Latin pungere "to prick, pierce," from a nasalized form of PIE root *peuk- "to prick."

The Latin neuter past participle punctum was used as a noun, meaning "small hole made by pricking," subsequently extended to anything that looked like one, hence, "dot, particle," etc. This yielded Old French point "dot; smallest amount," which was borrowed in Middle English in the "smallest amount" sense by c. 1300. The meaning "small mark, dot" (mark made by the end of a pointed instrument) in English is from mid-14c.

Meanwhile the Latin fem. past participle of pungere was puncta, which was used in Medieval Latin to mean "sharp tip," and became Old French pointe "point of a weapon, vanguard of an army," which also passed into English (early 14c.). The senses have merged in English, but remain distinct in French.

 The sense of "peak or promontory from a land or coast" is from 1550s. The extended senses often are from the notion of "minute, single, or separate items in an extended whole." The sense of "brief period of time, instant" is from late 14c. Meaning "distinguishing feature" (especially a good one) is recorded from late 15c. Meaning "a unit of score in a game" is recorded from 1746.

The meaning "recognized unit of fluctuation of price per share on an exchange" is by 1814. As a typeface unit (in Britain and U.S., one twelfth of a pica), it went into use in U.S. 1883. As a measure of weight for precious stones (one one-hundredth of a carat) it is recorded from 1931. Meaning "diacritical mark indicating a vowel or other modification of sound" is from 1610s.

The point "the matter being discussed" is attested from late 14c.; meaning "sense, purpose, end, aim, advantage" (usually in the negative, as in what's the point?) is recorded by 1903. Point of honor (1610s) translates French point d'honneur. Point of no return (1941) is originally aviators' term for the point in a flight "before which any engine failure requires an immediate turn around and return to the point of departure, and beyond which such return is no longer practical" [Young America's Aviation Annual]. To make a point of "be resolved to do something and do it accordingly" is from 1778.

Related entries & more