What's the origin of the word "picnic"?
A popular email forward claims the word refered to the act of lynching African Americans while spectators watched and ate packed lunches. It turns out this is just an ugly urban legend. Indeed, African Americans were the targets of lynch mobs, but the word "picnic" has nothing to do with that.
In reality, "picnic" is just a simple adaptation of the French word piquenique, which may have been based on the verb piquer, to pick or peck. And while nobody knows for sure, the "nique" may have been added simply because it rhymed.
All About History explains that the word originally meant an "outing with food" that was held indoors, much like a modern-day potluck. It wasn't until the 19th century that picnics moved outside.
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