- Rhymes: -iːtə(r)
US, 1902, presumably from shared initial pe-.
peter (plural peters)
1812, US miners’ slang, Unknown. Various speculative etymologies have been suggested. One suggestion is that it comes from peter being an abbreviation of saltpeter, the key ingredient in gunpowder – when a mine was exhausted, it was “petered”. Other derivations are from St. Peter (from sense of “rock”), or French péter (“to fart”).
- (only used in the phrase peter out) To dwindle; to trail off; to diminish to nothing
Originally used independently, today only used in the derived phrase peter out.