c. 1300, "a skirmish, a confused battle;" from the same source as bicker (v.). In modern use, often to describe the sound of a flight of an arrow or other repeated, loud, rapid sounds, in which sense it is perhaps at least partly echoic.
early 14c., bikere, "to skirmish, fight," perhaps from Middle Dutch bicken "to slash, stab, attack," + -er, Middle English frequentative suffix (as in blabber, hover, patter). Meaning "to quarrel, petulantly contend with words" is from mid-15c. Meaning "make a noisy, repeated clatter" is from 1748. Related: Bickered; bickering.
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