The term Pict is thought to have originated as a generic exonym used by the Romans in relation to people living north of the Forth–Clyde isthmus. The Latin word Picti first occurs in a panegyric written by Eumenius in AD 297 and is taken to mean "painted or tattooed people" (from Latin pingere "to paint"; pictus, "painted", cf. Greek "πυκτίς" pyktis, "picture").
Pict is Pettr in Old Norse, Peohta in Old English,[a] Pecht in Scots and Peithwyr ("pict-men") in Welsh. Some think these words suggest an original Pictish root, instead of a Latin coinage. In writings from Ireland, the name Cruthin, Cruthini, Cruthni, Cruithni or Cruithini (Modern Irish: Cruithne) was used to refer both to the Picts and to another group of people who lived alongside the Ulaid in eastern Ulster. It is generally accepted that this is derived from *Qritani, which is the Goidelic/Q-Celtic version of the Britonnic/P-Celtic *Pritani. From this came Britanni, the Roman name for those now called the Britons.
What the Picts called themselves is unknown. It has been proposed that they called themselves Albidosi, a name found in the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba during the reign of Máel Coluim mac Domnaill, but this idea has been disputed. A unified "Pictish" identity may have consolidated with the Verturian hegemony established following the Battle of Dun Nechtain in 685 AD.