PICA, BIRD, the Latin name of a genus of oscine passerine birds, the magpies. The Latin word, by interchange of initial p and k, is possibly the Gr. daaa (see MAGPIE), and probably the same word as picus, the woodpecker (q.v.). Another derivation would connect both pica and picus with the root pic- of pingere, to paint, from the parti-coloured appearance of the bird. It is this " pied " or black and white look of the page that probably gave the name of pica, " pie " or " pye," to the ordinal printed in black-letter (see PIE), and thence to a size of type in printing coming next to " English " (see TYPOGRAPHY). The Gr. daaa. and Lat. pica were used of a perverted craving for unnatural foods; and the word has been adopted in this sense in modern medical terminology.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)