mid-14c., "liquid measure equal to half a quart;" also "a vessel holding a pint," from Old French pinte "liquid measure, pint" (13c.), probably from Vulgar Latin *pincta (source of Old Provençal, Spanish, Italian pinta,Dutch, German pint), altered from Latin picta "painted," fem. past participle of pingere "to paint" (see paint (v.)), on notion of a painted mark on a vessel indicating this measure. Used elliptically for "pint of ale" (or beer) from 1742. Pint-sized "small" (especially in reference to children) is recorded by 1930; the literal sense is older.
updated on June 19, 2020