Etymology
Advertisement
picnic (n.)

1748 (in Chesterfield's "Letters"), but the thing itself apparently was rare before c. 1800 as an English institution [OED]; it originally meant "a fashionable social affair (not necessarily out of doors) in which every partaker contributed something to the general table;" from French piquenique (1690s), perhaps a reduplication of piquer "to pick, peck," from Old French (see pike (n.1)), or the second element may be nique "worthless thing," from a Germanic source.

As in many other riming names, the elements are used without precision, but the lit. sense is appar. 'a picking or nibbling of bits,' a snatch, snack .... [Century Dictionary]

The word also turns up 18c. in German, Danish, Swedish. Later "pleasure party the members of which carry provisions with them on an excursion, as to some place in the country." Figurative sense of "something easy" is from 1886. Picnic basket is by 1857. Picnic table is by 1858, originally a folding table used for outdoor dining.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
picnic (v.)
"go on a picnic," 1842, from picnic (n.). Related: Picnicked; picnicking. The -k- is inserted to preserve the "k" sound of -c- before a suffix beginning in -i-, -y-, or -e- (compare traffic/trafficking, panic/panicky, shellac/shellacked).
Related entries & more 
politicking (n.)
1928, from present participle of politic (v.). For the -k-, see picnic.
Related entries & more 
politic (v.)

also politick, "to engage in political activity," 1917, a back-formation from politics. Related: Politicked; politicking (for the -k- see picnic (v.)).

Related entries & more 
traffic (v.)
1540s, "to buy and sell," from traffic (n.) and preserving the original commercial sense. Related: Trafficked; trafficking; trafficker. The -k- is inserted to preserve the "k" sound of -c- before a suffix beginning in -i-, -y-, or -e- (compare picnic/picnicking, panic/panicky, shellacshellacked).
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
clambake (n.)

also clam-bake, 1835, "picnic feast consisting chiefly of a mass of clams baked on heated stones," American English, from clam (n.) + bake (n.). By 1937 in jazz slang transferred to "an enjoyable time generally," especially "jam session."

Related entries & more 
tail-gate (n.)
1868, back panel on a wagon, hinged to swing down and open, from tail (n.1) + gate (n.). Extended by 1950 to hatchback door on an automobile. The verb (also tailgate) meaning "to drive too close behind another vehicle" is from 1951 ("Truck drivers know the practice of following too close as tail-gating" - "Popular Science," Jan. 1952); as an adjective, in reference to the open tail-gate of a parked car as a setting for a party or picnic, from 1958. Related: Tail-gating.
Related entries & more 
Ellis Island 
sandy island in mouth of Hudson River, said to have been called "Gull Island" by local Indians and "Oyster Island" by the Dutch, renamed "Gull Island" after the British took over, then "Gibbet Island" because pirates were hanged there. Sold to Samuel Ellis in 1785, who made it a picnic spot and gave it his name. Sold by his heirs in 1808 to New York State and acquired that year by the U.S. War Department for coastal defenses. Vacant after the American Civil War until the government opened an immigration station there in 1892 to replace Castle Island.
Related entries & more 
junket (n.)
late 14c., jonket, "basket in which fish are caught or carried," from Medieval Latin iuncata "rush basket," perhaps from Latin iuncus "rush" (see jonquil). The English word shifted meaning by 1520s to "feast, banquet," probably via the notion of a picnic basket; this led to extended sense of "pleasure trip" (1814), and then to "tour by government official at public expense for no discernible public benefit" (by 1886, American English).

Compare Italian cognate giuncata "cream cheese-like dish" (so called because originally made or served on a bed of rushes); Middle English jonket also had this sense, which survived longer in dialects. Johnson (1755) also records a verb junket "to feast secretly; to make entertainments by stealth."
Related entries & more 
wet (adj.)

Old English wæt "moist, rainy, liquid," also as a noun. "moisture, liquid drink," from Proto-Germanic *wed- (source also of Old Frisian wet ). Also from cognate Old Norse vatr; all from PIE root *wed- (1) "water; wet." Of paint, ink, etc., "not yet dry" from 1510s. Opposed to dry in reference to the U.S. battles over prohibition from 1870. Wet blanket "person who has a dispiriting effect" is recorded from 1871, from use of blankets drenched in water to smother fires (the phrase is attested in this literal sense from 1660s).

Do we not know them, those wet blankets who come down on our pleasant little fires and extinguish them, with no more ruth than the rain feels when it pours on the encampment of the merry picnic party, or floods the tents of a flower show? ["Wet Blankets," in Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine, February, 1871]

All wet "in the wrong" is recorded from 1923, American English; earlier simply wet "ineffectual," and perhaps ultimately from slang meaning "drunken" (c. 1700). Wet-nurse is from 1610s. The diver's wet-suit is from 1955. Wet dream is from 1851; in the same sense Middle English had ludificacioun "an erotic dream."

He knew som tyme a man of religion, þat gaff hym gretelie vnto chastitie bothe of his harte & of his body noghtwithstondyng he was tempid with grete ludificacions on þe nyght. ["Alphabet of Tales," c. 1450]
Related entries & more