Definition of Pict in English:



  • A member of an ancient people inhabiting northern Scotland in Roman times.

    • ‘Only the Picts, possibly, diverged from the European pattern of male descent with their apparently matrilinear succession to the kingship, though this is much debated.’
    • ‘That the Vikings were settling on the same sites as those used by the Picts before them - and their Iron Age and Stone Age ancestors before them - is quite clear.’
    • ‘The kingdom was created by the Gaels of northern Argyll, who advanced up the Great Glen and, with the Norse from Orkney, overcame the Picts in northern Scotland in the 9th cent.’
    • ‘Success has also brought the time to explore the visual cultures of the diverse peoples whose symbols inform his art, from the Australian bushmen to Caribbean Indians, and historically, the Ancient Egyptians, Celts and Picts.’
    • ‘After the departure of the Romans in about 420, there were many wars in England involving Scots, Picts, Britons and Saxons, Anglo-Saxons and Danes, and, in 1066, the Norman conquest.’
    • ‘In Scotland, British tribes shared the landspace with the Picts, who occupied the territory north of the Forth; and the Scots / Irish who lived west of the mountain ranges of Argyll.’
    • ‘Hadrian was also known for building a wall to defend Roman Britain from the Scottish Picts to the North.’
    • ‘Ancient Scots and Picts erected a 10 ft tall standing stone at the site to commemorate the historic act.’
    • ‘Archaeological and textual evidence demonstrates the antiquity of these forms, which were carried out in cultures as diverse as the ancient Egyptians, Celts, Picts, and Germans.’
    • ‘Britain is a mongrel country of Britons, Celts, Scots, Picts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Vikings, Normans, Jews, Huguenots, members of the Empire and Commonwealth, and many more groups.’
    • ‘But the Romans never subdued the northern tribes - variously referred to as Brigantes, Caledonians and Picts - who repeatedly launched raids into the mighty Roman Empire.’
    • ‘It is not till AD.300 that we read of the Caledonians and other Picts; in the 4th century they frequently harried the Romans up to the wall of Hadrian, between Tyne and Soiway.’
    • ‘Constantine, fearing interception by the western Caesar, Flavius Valerius Severus, hastened to Britain to aid his father against the Picts.’
    • ‘First, Scotland was multi-ethnic: Britons, Irish, Picts, English, Norse.’
    • ‘Three peoples were involved, the Scots from Ireland, the Picts from eastern Scotland, and the Attacotti, a people of unknown but presumably northern origin.’
    • ‘Or did the Vikings make these combs specifically to trade with the Picts?’
    • ‘But for the present, we should consider the possibility that Vikings and Picts had similar views on the role of Christianity.’
    • ‘The non-English parts of the UK have ten million Gaels, Celts, Picts, Irish, Scots and Vikings.’
    • ‘Faced with invasion by a coalition of Picts and Saxons, the Roman citizens of Britain appeal to the Emperor for help; but Honorius is in no position to aid them.’
    • ‘While you are somewhat correct that Celtic languages became marginalized, there were plenty of Gaelic speakers in southern Scotland and in the Hebrides, and where this was not so was in areas where the Picts held dominance.’

Roman writings of around 300 AD apply the term Picti to the hostile tribes of the area north of the Antonine Wall. Their origins are uncertain, but they may have been a loose confederation of Celtic tribes


From late Latin Picti, perhaps from pict- ‘painted, tattooed’ (from pingere ‘to paint’), or perhaps influenced by a local name.