Words related to peck

pick (v.)

early 13c., picken "to peck;" c. 1300, piken "to work with a pick, to dig up," probably representing a fusion of Old English *pician "to prick," (implied by picung "a piercing, pricking," an 8c. gloss on Latin stigmata) with Old Norse pikka "to prick, peck," both from a Germanic root (source also of Middle Dutch picken, German picken "to pick, peck"), perhaps imitative. Influence from Middle French piquer "to prick, sting" (see pike (n.1)) also is possible, but that French word generally is not considered a source of the English word. Related: Picked; picking.

Meaning "to pluck with the hand or fingers, gather, break off, collect" (fruit, etc.) is from early 14c.; that of "to prick or pierce with a pointed instrument" also is from early 14c. The meaning "to choose, sort through carefully in search of valuable material" emerged late 14c., from the earlier meaning "to pluck with the fingers." The sense of "to rob, plunder" (c. 1300) weakened to a milder sense of "steal petty things, filch or pilfer from" by late 14c.  Meaning "to eat with small bites" is from 1580s.

Of locks, etc., "probe or penetrate with a pointed tool," early 15c. The meaning "to pluck (a banjo, etc.) with the fingers" is recorded from 1860. To pick a quarrel, fight, etc. is from mid-15c.; to pick at "annoy with repeated fault-finding" is from 1670s. To pick on "single out for adverse attention" is from late 14c. Also see pick up.

To pick off "shoot one by one" is recorded from 1810; baseball sense, of a pitcher or catcher, "to put out a runner caught off base" is by 1939. To pick and choose "select carefully" is from 1660s (choose and pick is attested from c. 1400). To pick (one's) nose is by mid-15c.

pecking (n.)

mid-12c., pekking, "the pecking of birds," verbal noun from peck (v.). As a description of a pattern of behavior among hens, pecking order (1928) translates German hackliste (T.J. Schjelderuo-Ebbe, 1922); the transferred sense of "human hierarchy based on rank or status" is by 1955.

henpecked (adj.)

said of a husband whose wife rules him by superior force of will, 1670s, an image from hen + peck (v.).

The henpect Man rides behind his Wife, and lets her wear the Spurs and govern the Reins. [Samuel Butler, "Genuine Remains," 1759]

The verb henpeck (1680s) apparently is a back-formation.

pecker (n.)

1690s, "one who or that which pecks," agent noun from peck (v.); slang sense of "penis" is from 1902, according to OED "chiefly U.S." OED adds that the British colloquial sense of "courage, resolution" (in keep your pecker up, 1853) is "commonly avoided by British travellers in the U.S."

peckish (adj.)

"somewhat hungry, inclined to eat," literally "disposed to peck," 1785, from peck (v.) + -ish. Also compare peck (n.2). Related: Peckishly; peckishness.