from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To diminish slowly and come to an end; dwindle. Often used with out: Their enthusiasm soon petered out.
  • intransitive v. To become exhausted. Used with out.
  • n. Vulgar Slang The penis.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The penis.
  • v. To dwindle; to trail off; to diminish to nothing

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A common baptismal name for a man. The name of one of the apostles
  • intransitive v. To become exhausted; to run out; to fail; -- used generally with out.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In whist, to call for trumps by throwing away a higher card of a suit while holding a smaller.
  • To diminish gradually and then cease; fail; be-come exhausted; in mining, to split up into branches and become lost: said of a vein which runs out or disappears, so that it can no longer be followed by the miner: with out.
  • n. A kind of wine otherwise called peter-sec-me and peter-sameene.
  • n. A kind of cosmetic.
  • n. See blue-peter
  • n. In whist, a conventional signal indicating a call for trumps. See peter, verb
  • n. The common American coot, Fulica americana: so called with reference to its color, with an allusion to blue-peter.
  • n. In thieves' cant, a traveling-bag, portmanteau, trunk, or any piece of baggage or a parcel.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. disciple of Jesus and leader of the Apostles; regarded by Catholics as the vicar of Christ on earth and first Pope
  • n. obscene terms for penis


Origin unknown.
From the name Peter.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
US, 1902, presumably from shared initial pe-. (Wiktionary)
1812, US miners’ slang, Unknown. 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"). (Wiktionary)


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