1868, coined from bi- "two" + Greek kyklos "circle, wheel" (see cycle (n.)), on the pattern of tricycle ; both the word and the vehicle superseding earlier velocipede . The English word probably is not from French, though often said to be (many French sources say the French word is from English). The assumption apparently is because Pierre Lallement, employee of a French carriage works, improved Macmillan's 1839 pedal velocipede in 1865 and took the invention to America. See also pennyfarthing . As a verb, from 1869. That ne plus ultra of snobbishness -- bicyclism.