Definition of picnic in US English:



  • 1An outing or occasion that involves taking a packed meal to be eaten outdoors.

    • ‘I heard of the clubs and the socialist Sunday schools that organised picnics in the country and study groups.’
    • ‘In this country a classic picnic is as much a family tradition as Sunday lunch.’
    • ‘This potato salad will remind you of picnics and barbecues.’
    • ‘Thousands more people headed to Crystal Palace Park on Monday evening to listen to the gig from outside, enjoying picnics and barbecues in the sunshine.’
    • ‘When they did visit, they took the train to Argyll under police escort and their grandmother took them fishing or for picnics in the country.’
    • ‘Telling his wife to invite Liena, he declared that he would borrow his father's car and take them out for a picnic in the country.’
    • ‘There are picnics plus barbecues and sports activities in the home's fields and grounds.’
    • ‘I also noticed plenty of people strolling around the perimeter of wildflower garden and even enjoying picnics on the balmy days of late December.’
    • ‘You could have a barbecue, organise a picnic in the park or host a stylish dinner party.’
    • ‘In the summer, the most popular forms of relaxation are trips to the beach and picnics in the countryside, where they roast meat and vegetables over open fires.’
    • ‘We were out in the country having a picnic on the land my grandfather had left me several years back.’
    • ‘During summers, Danny rode his pony and we all went for long country walks and picnics.’
    • ‘Eating outside is becoming the norm this season with probably more wine being drunk in the garden, at picnics, and at almost every ‘al fresco’ than the last six summers put together.’
    • ‘Unwrap the loaf carefully, remove the cut end, and cut into wide slices, ready to eat in the garden or on a picnic.’
    • ‘If the field was allowed to grow like a hay meadow, to encourage meadow flowers and insects that feed on them, an area should also be kept mown or grazed for picnics, barbecues and also, perhaps, with pathways among the long grass.’
    • ‘And this was labor day, a holiday when families here would traditionally head for that park and hold picnics, barbecues, play ball, sunbathe and relax at the end of a super hot summer.’
    • ‘As with almost all American holidays, it had become a day for feasting, for picnics and barbecues, for BIG SALES!’
    • ‘At one point, during a picnic in the garden, we had a fox come over and beg for scraps.’
    • ‘These include hairdressing, chiropody and aromatherapy as well as outings to local gardens, picnics and pub lunches.’
    • ‘What would draw me to a park would be the opportunity to have barbecues and picnics with my friends, so I could chat and enjoy the nice view.’
    outdoor meal, al fresco meal, barbecue
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A packed meal taken on an outing and eaten outdoors.
      • ‘Hundreds of others were tucking into picnics by the river as a full moon rose in a cloudless sky.’
      • ‘We packed a picnic, got in the car and, HEY PRESTO, twelve minutes later we were there.’
      • ‘Organised people pack a picnic, but for the rest of us, it's quite enough to get out of our weekend beds early enough to arrive before the gates close.’
      • ‘She would have scoffed at the idea of a formal supper, and packed a picnic to haul off to the nearest fragrant meadow.’
      • ‘The comfortable rooms have breathtaking views across Mount's Bay, and liveried waiters serve cream-tea picnics on the lawn.’
      • ‘She decided with Kimmy that they would pack a picnic to take on the boat with them.’
      • ‘We can pack a picnic and eat on the water, and we catch fish.’
      • ‘Lots of people brought picnics and we had the most delicious cream teas.’
      • ‘On summer days many local rail buffs pack a picnic lunch and watch the trains pass.’
      • ‘Luncheon was a sort of picnic, with no servants in attendance.’
      • ‘You don't need to pack a picnic to experience some of the magic of Glyndebourne.’
      • ‘Serve icy-cold strawberry milkshakes with warm berry muffins as a pud, a picnic, or a pretty brunch/lunch.’
      • ‘Ash and Misty started frantically packing up the picnic as Mrs. Ketchum came closer.’
      • ‘We packed up a picnic lunch in the backpack, hopped in the car and drove through horrendous traffic to the zoo.’
      • ‘Perfect for picnics and luncheons, this delightfully delicious sandwich puts a fresh twist on a family favorite.’
      • ‘They ate dinner up there, a picnic that Jonathan had packed, and then watched the sunset.’
      • ‘I read some books aloud as she sewed and then we packed a picnic lunch and ate it by a nearby spring.’
      • ‘Tonight, people and their picnics will pack out the park to relax to the sounds of the Proms and the sights of the firework spectacular.’
      • ‘It's not enough that I pack the picnics and attempt to eradicate ineradicable grass stains; my lack of interest in sport is treated as a risible absence of general knowledge.’
      • ‘So we pack a picnic and a blanket in a small rucksack and head off into the hills.’


[no object]
  • Have or take part in a picnic.

    • ‘We picnic on a small beach and find a giant fish jawbone.’
    • ‘I have never really walked on the beach, picnicked, or even just talked for hours.’
    • ‘If you don't feel like picnicking on goat's cheese, crusty bread and cider, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants around the marketplace.’
    • ‘Thousands of people are dancing, picnicking, talking and laughing.’
    • ‘Filming in late summer, the Pride cast picnicked and swam naked in the lake between takes.’
    • ‘Opponents are concerned about losing a prime area for migratory birds, as well as an area often filled with families picnicking and children playing.’
    • ‘The subject, again and again, is the American family at leisure, picnicking, playing, sightseeing.’
    • ‘The further north you go, the quieter it gets, and you should schedule as many stops as you can for biking, hiking and picnicking beneath the pines.’
    • ‘As an impressionist painting, though, the lady and the park she's picnicking in are hazy and roughly-rendered.’
    • ‘The park is open year-round, with activities that include self-guided hiking, interpretive tours, picnicking, canoeing, fishing and wildlife watching.’
    • ‘Families are picnicking, watching with binoculars and discussing previous races.’
    • ‘The visitors, lured by the intrigue of the island's rich monastic history, will spend the day exploring and picnicking on golden beaches.’
    • ‘The region needs a wide diversity of open spaces to cater for our outdoor lifestyle preferences, reflected in the high number of people participating in everything from picnicking to wilderness hiking.’
    • ‘The facilities now include a fine restaurant, private dining rooms, dining towers and under-cover spaces for picnicking.’
    • ‘Families picnicked under the trees, and kids swam where canal currents were not too strong.’
    • ‘They generate noise which affects the tranquility of neighbouring residents and people picnicking in the park.’
    • ‘The launch crew and rowers then picnicked on the beach in high style.’
    • ‘The village green, however, is used by many residents and visitors alike for walking, paddling in the river, picnicking, and just sitting enjoying the peace and quite’
    • ‘They were all having a good time - playing on the swings, feeling the air and the sun on their faces, picnicking on the grass.’
    • ‘Under the freeway bridges, huddles of young men have parked up their cars, set up garden chairs, and are picnicking to hip-hop from battered stereos.’


  • no picnic

    • informal Used of something difficult or unpleasant.

      ‘chemotherapy is no picnic’
      • ‘Coordinating everyone's schedules and demands was no picnic.’
      • ‘Waking up with a migraine in full swing is no picnic, I can tell you.’
      • ‘Not being able to work I have to rely on benefits, temporary housing is no picnic for any single mother, it's hard, far from ideal!’
      • ‘Seattle rush hour traffic is no picnic, but the system, implemented in 1981 shortly after I moved there, does work, and only minimally inconveniences motorists queued up for their turn.’
      • ‘Life was no picnic but you learn never to give in.’
      • ‘But life aboard is no picnic: you share a cabin with seven others and are expected to help with menial tasks such as cleaning and keeping watch, as well as learning to handle ropes, take the helm and navigate using charts and compass.’
      • ‘Certainly it seemed the life of a Barrier Reef turtle was no picnic.’
      • ‘He knows the immigrant experience is no picnic.’
      • ‘Bringing up children, particularly teenagers, is no picnic.’
      • ‘At over three hours, the production is no picnic for the 16 actors - most of whom barely leave the stage - yet they rarely lose their focus.’
      easy task, easy job, child's play, five-finger exercise, gift, walkover, nothing, sinecure, gravy train
      View synonyms


Mid 18th century (denoting a social event at which each guest contributes a share of the food): from French pique-nique, of unknown origin.