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See also: Peter, péter, and Péter



Etymology 1[edit]

US, 1902, presumably from shared initial pe-.[1] Compare the use of other men’s names as a slang term for the penis, e.g., dick, willy, John Thomas, etc.


peter (plural peters)

  1. (slang) The penis.
    • 1997: Shelby Scates, Warren G. Magnuson and the Shaping of Twentieth-Century America [2]
      You smile, act polite, shake their hands, then cut off their peters and put them in your pocket.” “Yes, Mr. President,” answered O'Brien.
    • 1998: Michael Robert Gorman, The Empress Is a Man: Stories from the Life of Jose Sarria [3]
      ... and you were there, and they acted like you weren't even born yet?' "I'd say, 'Yes, their memories are as long as their peters.'"
    • 2002: Celia H Miles, Mattie's Girl: An Appalachian Childhood [4]
      “It's to put on their peters when they don't want to make babies,” she said.
  2. (Britain, slang) A safe.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

1812, US miners’ slang, Unknown.[1] Various speculative etymologies have been suggested.[2][3][4][5] 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).


peter (third-person singular simple present peters, present participle petering, simple past and past participle petered)

  1. (most often used in the phrase peter out) To dwindle; to trail off; to diminish to nothing.
    • 2014 August 23, Neil Hegarty, “Hidden City: Adventures and Explorations in Dublin by Karl Whitney, review: 'a necessary corrective' [print version: Re-Joycing in Dublin, p. R25]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Review)[5]:
      Whitney is absorbed especially by Dublin's unglamorous interstitial zones: the new housing estates and labyrinths of roads, watercourses and railways where the city peters into its commuter belt.
Usage notes[edit]

Originally used independently, but today most often in the derived phrase peter out.

Etymology 3[edit]

EB1911 - Volume 01 - Page 001 - 1.svg This entry lacks etymological information. If you are familiar with the origin of this term, please add it to the page per etymology instructions, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.


peter (third-person singular simple present peters, present participle petering, simple past and past participle petered)

  1. (card games, intransitive) Synonym of blue peter


  1. 1.0 1.1 peter” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019.
  2. ^ Peter out” in Gary Martin, The Phrase Finder, 1997–, retrieved 26 February 2017.
  3. ^ “ami: origin of “peter out””, in (Please provide the title of the work)[1], accessed 18 January 2010, archived from the original on 6 June 2010
  4. ^ Take Our Word For It #117
  5. ^ A Hog On Ice & Other Curious Expressions, Charles Funk, 1948.




From Middle Dutch peter, from petrijn, from Latin patrīnus.



peter m (plural peters)

  1. A godfather.
    Synonym: peetoom