peter out

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



1846 US miners’ slang, from 1812 peter (to become exhausted).[1] Various speculative etymologies have been suggested, either from St. Peter (from the sense of “rock”), French péter (to fart), or saltpeter (ingredient in gunpowder, hence used in mining).[2][3][4][5]


  • (file)


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

  1. (idiomatic) To dwindle; to trail off; to diminish to nothing.
    What started as a great effort ended up petering out to nothing.



  1. ^ peter (v.)” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2020, retrieved 26 February 2017.
  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.