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  1. a baked food having a filling of fruit, meat, pudding, etc., prepared in a pastry-lined pan or dish and often topped with a pastry crust: apple pie; meat pie.
  2. a layer cake with a filling of custard, cream jelly, or the like: chocolate cream pie.
  3. a total or whole that can be divided: They want a bigger part of the profit pie.
  4. an activity or affair: He has his finger in the political pie too.
  5. pizza.
  1. easy as pie, extremely easy or simple.
  2. nice as pie, extremely well-behaved, agreeable, or the like: The children were nice as pie.
  3. pie in the sky,
    1. the illusory prospect of future benefits: Political promises are often pie in the sky.
    2. a state of perfect happiness; utopia: to promise pie in the sky.

Origin of pie1

1275–1325; Middle English, of obscure origin
Related formspie·like, adjective


  1. magpie.

Origin of pie2

1200–50; Middle English < Old French < Latin pīca, akin to pīcus woodpecker


noun, verb (used with object), pied, pie·ing.
  1. pi2.


or pye

  1. (in England before the Reformation) a book of ecclesiastical rules for finding the particulars of the service for the day.

Origin of pie4

1470–80; translation of Latin pīca pie2; the allusion is obscure; cf. pica1


  1. a former bronze coin of India, the 12th part of an anna.
Compare naya paisa, paisa, pice.

Origin of pie5

First recorded in 1855–60, pie is from the Marathi word pā'ī literally, a fourth


  1. Proto-Indo-European.


or pie

noun, plural pies.
  1. printing types mixed together indiscriminately.
  2. any confused mixture; jumble.
verb (used with object), pied, pi·ing.
  1. to reduce (printing types) to a state of confusion.
  2. to jumble.

Origin of pi2

First recorded in 1650–60; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pie

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Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for pie


  1. a baked food consisting of a sweet or savoury filling in a pastry-lined dish, often covered with a pastry crust
  2. have a finger in the pie
    1. to have an interest in or take part in some activity
    2. to meddle or interfere
  3. pie in the sky illusory hope or promise of some future good; false optimism

Word Origin

C14: of obscure origin


  1. an archaic or dialect name for magpie

Word Origin

C13: via Old French from Latin pīca magpie; related to Latin pīcus woodpecker


noun, verb
  1. printing a variant spelling of pi 2


  1. a very small former Indian coin worth one third of a pice

Word Origin

C19: from Hindi pā'ī, from Sanskrit pādikā a fourth



  1. history a book for finding the Church service for any particular day

Word Origin

C15: from Medieval Latin pica almanac; see pica 1


  1. be pie on NZ informal to be keen on

Word Origin

from Māori pai ana


abbreviation for
  1. Philippine Islands
  2. private investigator


noun plural pis
  1. the 16th letter in the Greek alphabet (Π, π), a consonant, transliterated as p
  2. maths a transcendental number, fundamental to mathematics, that is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Approximate value: 3.141 592…; symbol: π

Word Origin

C18 (mathematical use): representing the first letter of Greek periphereia periphery



noun plural pies
  1. a jumbled pile of printer's type
  2. a jumbled mixture
verb pies, piing, pied, pies, pieing or pied (tr)
  1. to spill and mix (set type) indiscriminately
  2. to mix up

Word Origin

C17: of uncertain origin


  1. British slang short for pious (def. 2), pious (def. 3)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for pie


"pastry," mid-14c. (probably older; piehus "bakery" is attested from late 12c.), from Medieval Latin pie "meat or fish enclosed in pastry" (c.1300), perhaps related to Medieval Latin pia "pie, pastry," also possibly connected with pica "magpie" (see pie (n.2)) on notion of the bird's habit of collecting miscellaneous objects. Figurative of "something to be shared out" by 1967.

According to OED, not known outside English, except Gaelic pighe, which is from English. In the Middle Ages, a pie had many ingredients, a pastry but one. Fruit pies began to appear c.1600. Figurative sense of "something easy" is from 1889. Pie-eyed "drunk" is from 1904. Phrase pie in the sky is 1911, from Joe Hill's Wobbly parody of hymns. Pieman is not attested earlier than the nursery rhyme "Simple Simon" (c.1820). Pie chart is from 1922.


"magpie," mid-13c. (late 12c. as a surname), from Old French pie (13c.), from Latin pica "magpie" (see magpie). In 16c., a wily pie was a "cunning person."


also pi, printers' slang for "a mass of type jumbled together" (also pi, pye), 1650s, perhaps from pie (n.1) on notion of a "medley," or pie (n.2); cf. pica (n.1). As a verb from 1870. Related: Pied.



Greek letter, from Hebrew, literally "little mouth." As the name of the mathematical constant, from 1841 in English, used in Latin 1748 by Swiss mathematician Leonhart Euler (1707-1783), as an abbreviation of Greek periphereia "periphery." For the meaning "printer's term for mixed type," see pie (3).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pie in Medicine


n. pl. pis
  1. The 16th letter of the Greek alphabet.


  1. The pH value for the isoelectric point of a given substance in solution.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

pie in Science


  1. An irrational number that has a numerical value of 3.14159265358979… and is represented by the symbol π. It expresses the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle and appears in many mathematical expressions.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

pie in Culture



The irrational number obtained by dividing the length of the diameter of a circle into its circumference. Pi is approximately 3.1416. The sign for pi is π.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with pie


In addition to the idiom beginning with pie

also see:

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.