PICNIC


a problem caused by a computer user

STATISTICS

IN THE PRESS

If you use your laptop on your lap, or leave it plugged in all the time, you may well be cruising for what some experts call PICNIC.

(New York Times)

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In too many situations, the real threat to information security is what is known as a PICNIC.

(from a hotel industry magazine)

Did you
know?

PICNIC
acronym

- Problem In Chair, Not In Computer

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PICNIC, or picnic problem as it is also referred to, is a derogatory acronym that originated from IT system call centres. It is used to indicate that a computer problem is the user's fault, not the computer itself.

Other similar terms include PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair), PEBCAK (Problem Exists Between Chair and Keyboard), PIBCAK (Problem Is Between Chair And Keyboard) and POBCAK (Problem Occurs Between Chair And Keyboard).

Since we are talking about picnics, where did this term originate from? It began life as a 17th-century French word and had little to do with the modern sense of eating outdoors. A 1692 edition of Origines de la Langue Françoise de Ménage mentions "piquenique" as being of recent origin and marks the first appearance of the word in print. The term was used to describe a group of people dining in a restaurant who brought their own wine.

As for how the French came by this new term, it was likely invented by joining the common form of the verb "piquer" (to pick or peck) and a nonsense rhyming syllable coined to fit the first half of the expression.

The first documented appearance of the term outside the French language occurred in 1748, but it was around 1800 before anyone can prove it made it into the English language. Picnic described a sort of "pot luck" meal where each guest prepared something and brought it. Over time, the meaning of the word shifted to emphasize the aspect of eating outdoors.

(adapted from Wikipedia and snopes.com)

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SYNONYM

User eror

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SMUGGLE OWAD into today's conversation

"If software were more user-friendly, we'd have fewer PICNIC problems."

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Thanks to Heidi for suggesting today's word!

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