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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.

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).

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Definitions of picnic from WordNet
1
picnic (n.)
a day devoted to an outdoor social gathering;
Synonyms: field day / outing
picnic (n.)
any undertaking that is easy to do;
marketing this product will be no picnic
Synonyms: cinch / breeze / snap / duck soup / child's play / pushover / walkover / piece of cake
picnic (n.)
any informal meal eaten outside or on an excursion;
2
picnic (v.)
eat alfresco, in the open air;
We picnicked near the lake on this gorgeous Sunday
From wordnet.princeton.edu