AskDefine | Define picnic

Dictionary Definition



1 a day devoted to an outdoor social gathering [syn: field day, outing]
2 any undertaking that is easy to do; "marketing this product will be no picnic" [syn: cinch, breeze, snap, duck soup, child's play, pushover, walkover, piece of cake]
3 any informal meal eaten outside or on an excursion v : eat alfresco, in the open air; "We picnicked near the lake on this gorgeous Sunday" [also: picnicking, picnicked]

User Contributed Dictionary



From french piquenique


  1. A meal eaten outdoors or in another informal setting.
  2. An easy or pleasant task.


a meal eaten outdoors
an easy or pleasant task

Derived terms


  1. To eat a picnic.

Extensive Definition

In contemporary usage, picnic can be defined simply as a pleasure excursion at which a meal is eaten outdoors, ideally taking place in a beautiful landscape. Picnics are often family-oriented but can also be an intimate occasion between two people, or a large get-together such as company picnics and church picnics.
On romantic and family picnics a picnic basket and a blanket are usually brought along. Outdoor games or some other form of entertainment are common at large picnics.
Formerly, picnic meant a potluck, an entertainment at which each person contributed some dish to a common table for all to share.
  • In British and American English, the phrase "no picnic" is used to describe a difficult or trying situation or activity. For example, "Driving in rush hour traffic is no picnic."
  • In established parks, a picnic area generally includes picnic tables and possibly other items related to eating outdoors, such as built-in grills, water faucets, garbage containers, and restrooms.

Related historical events

After the French Revolution in 1789, royal parks became open to the public for the first time. Picnicking in the parks became a popular activity amongst the newly enfranchised citizens.

Cultural representations of picnics

Perhaps the most famous depiction of a picnic is Le déjeuner sur l'herbe, painted by Edouard Manet in 1862.

In literature

In film

  • The film Picnic, which is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play by William Inge, was a multiple Oscar winner from 1955. Since then the film has been remade twice, once in 1986 and again in 2000, but neither version received much acclaim.
  • With Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), Peter Weir constructs a film of haunting mystery. Three girls and one of their teachers on a school outing mysteriously disappear. The only one that is later found remembers almost nothing.
  • Baji on the Beach, Gurinder Chada (1993). The German version of the film is titled Picknick on the Beach. Nine Indian women of various ages flee away from their everyday life into a joint excursion to the English resort town of Blackpool. A rather unharmonious journey because conflicts between generations raise emotions to a fever pitch.
  • Blissfully Yours, a film with a picnic in a jungle.
  • Picnickers are used to illustrate the scale of one metre in the film Powers of Ten.
  • The Office Picnic (1973) is a dark comedy set in an Australian Public Service office. It was written and produced by film maker Tom Cowan, who is now famous for his work on the series Survivor.

In music

  • In 1906 the British composer John William Bratton wrote a musical piece originally titled "The Teddy Bear Two Step". It became popular in a 1908 instrumental version renamed "Teddy Bears Picnic", performed by the Arthur Pryor Band. The song regained prominence in 1932 when the Irish lyricist Jimmy Kennedy added words and it was recorded by the then popular Henry Hall (and his BBC Dance Orchestra) featuring Val Rosing (Gilbert Russell) as lead vocalist, which went on to sell a million copies. The eddy Bears' Picnic resurfaced again in the late 1940s and early 1950s when it was used as the theme song for the Big Jon and Sparkie children's radio show. This perennial favorite has appeared on many children's recordings ever since, as well as being the theme song for the AHL's Hershey Bears hockey club. lyrics and audio from the BBC
  • "Stone Soul Picnic", by Laura Nyro (released in 1968) It was a major hit for the group Fifth Dimension. cover version by Swing Out Sister
  • "Malcolm's X-Ray Picnic" was a moderate hit for the indie-pop group Number One Cup.

In art

  • "Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe" (1865-1866), often referred to as "The Picnic" or "The Luncheon on the Grass" in English, was one the earliest works of Manet.
picnic in German: Picknick
picnic in Spanish: Picnic (alimentación)
picnic in Esperanto: Pikniko
picnic in French: Pique-nique
picnic in Croatian: Piknik
picnic in Hebrew: פיקניק
picnic in Dutch: Picknick
picnic in Japanese: ピクニック
picnic in Portuguese: Piquenique
picnic in Simple English: Picnic
picnic in Slovenian: Piknik
picnic in Finnish: Piknik
picnic in Swedish: Picknick
picnic in Chinese: 郊遊

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Cadmean victory, KO, Mardi Gras, Pyrrhic victory, Saturnalia, TV dinner, action, agonizing, agony, alfresco meal, arduous, ascendancy, ball, banquet, barbecue, big time, blowout, board, break bread with, breakfast, breeze, brunch, buffet supper, carnival, championship, cinch, clambake, coffee break, conquest, cook out, cookout, difficult, dine, dine out, diner, dinner, disagreeable, do, duck, easy target, easy thing, easy victory, eat out, elevenses, fair, feast, festival, festive occasion, festivity, fete, field day, fiesta, fish fry, fun, fun and games, funmaking, gala, gala affair, gala day, game, garden party, good time, grand slam, great doings, great fun, high jinks, high old time, high tea, high time, hot luncheon, jamboree, kermis, knockout, landslide, landslide victory, laughs, lead-pipe cinch, lovely time, lunch, luncheon, mash, mastery, meat breakfast, mess with, misfortune, moral victory, no picnic, painful, party, petit dejeuner, pie, piece of cake, play, pleasant time, pushover, rough, runaway victory, setup, sinecure, sitting duck, snap, sport, subdual, subduing, success, sup, supper, tea, tea break, teatime, tiffin, torture, torturous, total victory, tough, triumph, velvet, victory, walkaway, walkover, waygoose, wayzgoose, wiener roast, wienie roast, win, winning, winning streak
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