Etymology of 'Pip'
Well we might think it is related to a pip as in the pips of a fruit, pip being a shortened form of pippin. However, as relating to the emblems or spots on playing cards, dice, dominos or numbers of moves in backgammon the etymological dictionary relates it to the old English pepen, possibly an alternative form of piken, from which the English words peep and peek are derived. The same derivation relates to its military use in the British Army as in the stars on a uniform to indicate rank, and as a term in botany to indicate a single blossom in a cluster. To peep is among other things a transitive verb meaning to cause to emerge or become visible, a first glimpse or appearance, eg, the peep of dawn, the moon peeped through the clouds.
How does this relate to cards? Well it is probably rooted in the idea of something hidden becoming revealed, as in the first turn of the cards, or the showing of one's hand.
A very appropriate term also perhaps, in a sense meaning revelation, for something used for divination. Of the fortune teller who uses them to take a peep [transitory glimpse] into one's future.
Last edited by kwaw; 15-07-2006 at 22:14.