Back-formation from pedlar. (Compare burgle from burglar.)



peddle (third-person singular simple present peddles, present participle peddling, simple past and past participle peddled)

  1. To sell things, especially door to door or in insignificant quantities.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 3, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      My hopes wa'n't disappointed. I never saw clams thicker than they was along them inshore flats. I filled my dreener in no time, and then it come to me that 'twouldn't be a bad idee to get a lot more, take 'em with me to Wellmouth, and peddle 'em out. Clams was fairly scarce over that side of the bay and ought to fetch a fair price.
  2. To sell illegal narcotics.
    • 1974, Gone in 60 Seconds, 42:19 from the start:
      - How much you think this stuff is worth?
      - Yeah, there must be a million bucks' worth.
      - Think we could peddle it?
      - Oh, you can always get rid of it.
  3. (derogatory, figuratively) To spread or cause to spread.
    • 2009, Michael John Beashel, Unshackled (page 166)
      Christine walked a dangerous line, peddling gossip about her detested son-in-law.
    • 2012, Niamh O'Connor, Taken (page 166)
      Roberts was a drug dealer, nicknamed 'King Krud', who peddled death and misery.
    • 2014 October 21, Oliver Brown, “Oscar Pistorius jailed for five years – sport afforded no protection against his tragic fallibilities: Bladerunner's punishment for killing Reeva Steenkamp is but a frippery when set against the burden that her bereft parents, June and Barry, must carry [print version: No room for sentimentality in this tragedy, 13 September 2014, p. S22]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Sport)[1]:
      Yes, there were instances of grandstanding and obsessive behaviour, but many were concealed at the time to help protect an aggressively peddled narrative of [Oscar] Pistorius the paragon, the emblem, the trailblazer.
    • 2022 January 12, Nigel Harris, “Comment: Unhappy start to 2022”, in RAIL, number 948, page 3:
      As for the IRP, Secretary of State Grant Shapps continues to peddle snake oil, smoke and mirrors. His reaction to near-universal IRP condemnation from politicians, local and national media, and all but a few rail specialists was to dismiss the lot of us (in the condescending and patronising tone we have now come to expect) as "critics and naysayers".

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