<p>The origin of the word "picnic" is unclear. It first appeared in an English dictionary in 1748, and it probably derived from the French <em>pique-nique</em>.</p><p dir="ltr">A 17th-century French pique-nique may have been what we now think of as a potluck. In the 18th century, its American counterpart may have been more like a salon gathering. By the 19th century, though, it had become common for Americans to hold these events outside.</p><p dir="ltr">Although a picnic is usually a social event, the explorer Joseph Rock in 1910 captured this solitary setting among the pine forests in the foothills of Lijiang, China. (Related: "<a href="http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photos/national-geographic-milestones/#/konka-gomba_238_600x450.jpg">National Geographic Photography Milestones</a>")</p><p><em>—Becky Little</em></p>

Solitary Meal

The origin of the word "picnic" is unclear. It first appeared in an English dictionary in 1748, and it probably derived from the French pique-nique.

A 17th-century French pique-nique may have been what we now think of as a potluck. In the 18th century, its American counterpart may have been more like a salon gathering. By the 19th century, though, it had become common for Americans to hold these events outside.

Although a picnic is usually a social event, the explorer Joseph Rock in 1910 captured this solitary setting among the pine forests in the foothills of Lijiang, China. (Related: "National Geographic Photography Milestones")

—Becky Little

Photograph by Dr. Joseph F. Rock, National Geographic

Pictures: Nice Day for a Picnic—a Century of Outdoor Eating Around the World

Campers dine in the desert, workers take a midday break, and sweethearts kiss near the Eiffel Tower.

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