Entries related to pickpocket
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.
mid-14c., pokete, "small bag or pouch, small sack," from Anglo-French pokete (13c.), diminutive of Old North French poque "bag" (Old French pouche), from a Germanic source akin to Frankish *pokka "bag," from Proto-Germanic *puk- (see poke (n.1)).
The narrower meaning "small bag worn on the person, especially one sewn into a garment" is from early 15c. The sense of "one of the small bags or nets at the corners and sides of some billiards tables" is from 1754. The mining sense of "cavity in the ground filled with ore" is attested from 1850; the military sense of "area held by troops almost surrounded by the enemy" is from 1918; the general sense of "small area different than its surroundings" (1926) apparently was extended from the military use.
Figuratively, "one's money" (conceived as being kept in a pocket), from 1717; hence to be out of pocket "expend or lose money" (1690s); Pope Pokett (late 15c.) was figurative of the greedy and corrupt Church.