early 15c., "portray, paint, form a likeness of in color," from Latin depictus, past participle of depingere "to portray, paint, sketch; describe, imagine," from de "down" (see de-) + pingere "to paint" (see paint (v.)). Extended sense of "portray in words, describe" is from mid-15c. Related: Depicted; depicting.
Entries linking to depict
active word-forming element in English and in many verbs inherited from French and Latin, from Latin de "down, down from, from, off; concerning" (see de), also used as a prefix in Latin, usually meaning "down, off, away, from among, down from," but also "down to the bottom, totally" hence "completely" (intensive or completive), which is its sense in many English words.
As a Latin prefix it also had the function of undoing or reversing a verb's action, and hence it came to be used as a pure privative — "not, do the opposite of, undo" — which is its primary function as a living prefix in English, as in defrost (1895), defuse (1943), de-escalate (1964), etc. In some cases, a reduced form of dis-.
mid-13c., peinten, "represent (someone or something) in paint;" c. 1300, "decorate (something or someone) with drawings or pictures;" early 14c., "put color or stain on the surface of; coat or cover with a color or colors;" from Old French peintier "to paint," from peint, past participle of peindre "to paint," from Latin pingere "to paint, represent in a picture, stain; embroider, tattoo," from a nasalized form of PIE root *peig- "to cut, mark by incision."
The sense evolution between PIE and Latin was, presumably, "decorate with cut marks" to "decorate" to "decorate with color." Compare Sanskrit pingah "reddish," pesalah "adorned, decorated, lovely;" Old Church Slavonic pegu "variegated;" Greek poikilos "variegated;" Old High German fehjan "to adorn;" Old Church Slavonic pisati, Lithuanian piešiu, piešti "to write." Probably also representing the "cutting" branch of the family is Old English feol (see file (n.2)).
From late 14c. as "represent persons and things in pictures or drawing, portray." To paint the town (red) "go on a boisterous or disorderly spree" is by 1884; to paint (someone or something) black "represent it as wicked or evil" is from 1590s. Adjective paint-by-numbers "simple" is attested by 1970; the art-for-beginners kits themselves date to c. 1953.
also *peik-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to cut, mark by incision," hence "embroider, paint."
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit pimsati "to carve, hew out, cut to measure, adorn;" Greek pikros "bitter, sharp, pointed, piercing, painful," poikilos "spotted, pied, various;" Latin pingere "to embroider, tattoo, paint, picture;" Old Church Slavonic pila "file, saw," pegu "variegated," pisati "to write;" Lithuanian piela "file," piešiu, piešti "to write;" Old High German fehjan "to adorn."
updated on July 25, 2018