keep one's pecker up

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From pecker, meaning "nose", by analogy with beak.[1][2]


keep one's pecker up (third-person singular simple present keeps one's pecker up, present participle keeping one's pecker up, simple past and past participle kept one's pecker up)

  1. (chiefly Britain, idiomatic) To remain cheerful; keep smiling.
    • 1880, Talbot Baines Reed, The Fifth Form at Saint Dominic's,
      “Of course you will,” said Wraysford, cheerily; “it’s hard lines at first. Keep your pecker up, young ’un.” The young ’un, despite this friendly advice, felt very far from keeping up his pecker. But he did his best, and worked his face into a melancholy sort of a smile.
    • 1922 February, James Joyce, Ulysses, Paris: Shakespeare & Co.; Sylvia Beach, OCLC 560090630; republished London: Published for the Egoist Press, London by John Rodker, Paris, October 1922, OCLC 2297483:
      , Episode 12, The Cyclops
      --Keep your pecker up, says Joe. She'd have won the money only for the other dog.
    • 1977 W. Somerset Maugham, Collected short stories,
      "Nerves a bit dicky, eh? Playing a tune to keep your pecker up?"
    • 2003 Janet Floyd, Laurel Forster, The recipe reader: narratives, contexts, traditions,
      All you need is a box of goodies to keep your pecker up, ...

Usage notes[edit]

In America, where pecker means penis, this phrase is not used, so may be mistaken as a vulgar command to maintain an erection.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "keep your pecker up" in the Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 2015)
  2. ^ Julia Cresswell, Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins, ↑ISBN, page 314 (Oxford University Press, 2010)