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piker (n.)

1872, "miserly person," formerly "poor white migrant to California" (1860), earlier Pike (1854), perhaps originally "vagrant who wanders the pike (n.4)" (which is the notion in Sussex dialectal piker "vagrant, tramp, gypsy," 1838), but Barnhart, OED and others suggest the American English word ultimately is a reference to people from Pike County, Missouri. Its appearance seems too late to connect it with Middle English piker "robber, petty thief" (c. 1300, attested as late as 1549 in OED), from the source of pick (v.) in its sense of "steal, rob, plunder" (early 14c.) with its former long vowel.

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