[‘ An intricately decorated Easter egg of a type traditionally made in Poland and Ukraine, produced by drawing a pattern on an egg with wax and then applying dye (which cannot penetrate the areas covered by wax), then repeating this process with successive layers of wax and dye, so that once all the wax is removed a multicoloured design is revealed. Also (in pl. form): the craft of making such eggs.’]
Pronunciation: Brit. /pᵻˈsaŋkə/, U.S. /pəˈsɑŋkə/
Inflections: Plural pysanky, pysanki, pysankas.
Etymology:Partly < Ukrainian pysanka (plural pysanky; < pysaty to write, colour, paint), and partly < Polish pisanka (plural pisanki; < pisać to write, colour, paint); both verbs derive < the same base as Old Church Slavonic pĭsati to write, colour, paint (see poikilo- comb. form).
1905 Folklore 16 54 While making these colours and drawing the designs, a great many rules and rites have to be observed, in order that these pisanki..may be without any witchcraft.
1951 M. L. Wolf Dict. Arts 561/2 Pysanky, the Ukrainian tradition and art of painting eggs, and the eggs themselves.
1954 Los Angeles Times 12 Apr. ii. 10/4 A bowlful of pysanky, blessed at Easter, guards a Ukrainian home against lightning and fire.
1997 R. Strybel & M. Strybel Polish Heritage Cookery (new ed.) 294 At Eastertime, place a pisanka (painted Easter egg) in the pig’s mouth instead of the apple.