• Pica


    • enPR: pīkə, IPA: /ˈpaɪkə/
    • Rhymes: -aɪkə

    Origin 1

    From Latin pīca ("magpie, jay") (from the idea that magpies will eat almost anything).

    Full definition of pica



    (usually uncountable; plural picas)
    1. (medicine) A disorder characterized by craving and appetite for non-edible substances, such as ice, clay, chalk, dirt, or sand.
      • 1986, George S Baroff, Mental retardation: nature, cause, and management, The three most common nonfood picas were eating of strings and rags; feces, vomit, and urine; and paper, cigarettes, and soil.

    Origin 2

    The printing senses are probably from named the obsolete service book, which used this type size (compare canon and brevier)

    Type Foundry blog: Type bodies compared

    . In turn seemingly from Latin pīca ("magpie"), after the piebald appearance of the typeset page (compare pie ("disordered type")).



    (countable and uncountable; plural picas)
    1. (typography, uncountable) A size of type.
    2. (typography, countable) A unit of measure equivalent to 12 points.
      1. The traditional British and American pica, about 4.22 mm, or 0.166 in (close to 1/6 of an inch).
      2. (computing) The PostScript pica, 1/6 of an inch.
    3. (obsolete) A Roman Catholic service book; a type of ecclesiastical calendar book.

    Derived terms

    Origin 3



    (plural picas)
    1. (small rodent)
      • 1895, Richard Lydekker, The Royal Natural History (volume 3, page 190)Most travellers in the Himalaya are familiar with the pretty little Rodents, known as picas, tailless hares, or mouse-hares, which may be seen in the higher regions...


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