See also: Peter, péter, and Péter

English

edit

Pronunciation

edit

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.

Noun

edit

peter (plural peters)

  1. (slang) The penis.
    • 1997, Shelby Scates, Warren G. Magnuson and the Shaping of Twentieth-Century America, page 141:
      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, page 199:
      ... 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, page 64:
      “It's to put on their peters when they don't want to make babies,” she said.
Derived terms
edit
Translations
edit

Etymology 2

edit

Unknown. Attested from the 18th century.[2] The Canting Academy defines peeter as “A portmantle”;[3] Green’s Dictionary of Slang list a variety of uses for peter – including trunk or portmanteau – in thieves’ cant in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.[2] (This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)

Noun

edit

peter (plural peters)

  1. (UK, slang) A safe. [from 18th c.]
    Synonym: pete
    • 1963, Kenneth Ullyett, Crime out of Hand, page 109:
      It used to be simple to 'crack a peter'. Safe-breaking (blowing or cracking a 'peter') in the past three or four years shows that the expert cracksman knows his job.
    • 2013, Zack Wentz, “Simplicity itself”, in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, volume 10, page 161:
      The forty quid! Gone! ’Ow could she ’ave gotten in there? The peter ain’t broke, no sign of it bein’ bettied, and I the only one w’ the key.
  2. (UK, prison slang) A prison cell. [from 20th c.]
    • 1955, Rupert Croft-Cooke, The Verdict of You All, page 82:
      [] the ceremony of 'slopping out', breakfast, across to the main library from nine till half-past eleven, back to my peter for the mid-day meal and two hours' break, then the library again till five o'clock when tea was brought round and the cell door locked for the night.
Derived terms
edit

Etymology 3

edit

Unknown; the following etymologies have been suggested:

Verb

edit

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

  1. (intransitive, originally US) Chiefly followed by out: originally (mining), of a vein of ore: to be depleted of ore; now (generally), to diminish to nothing; to dwindle, to trail off.
    • 1910 T. Lane Carter: Mining in Nicaragua. Transactions of the American Institute of Mining Engineers. Vol. XLI. 1910. Canal Zone Meeting, October, 1910
      I found a veinlet about 15 in. wide and very rich in gold. Trenching along its outcrop showed that it extended about 100 ft. and then pinched out altogether. A winze sunk on the veinlet showed that it "petered out" entirely at 25 or 30 ft.
    • 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, page R25]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Review)[1], London: Telegraph Media Group, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 2022-05-20:
      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.
    • 2021, Helen Fisher, Faye, Faraway, page 241:
      My words petered away.
Usage notes
edit

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

Derived terms
edit
Translations
edit

Etymology 4

edit

Clipping of blue peter (play a high card to call for trump). See further etymology there.

Verb

edit

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

  1. (card games, intransitive) Synonym of blue peter; to call for trump by throwing away a high card while holding a lower one. [from 19th century]

References

edit
  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2024) “peter”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Jonathon Green (2024) “peter n3”, in Green’s Dictionary of Slang
  3. ^ Richard Head (1674) The canting academy, or, The devils cabinet opened wherein is shewn the mysterious and villanous practices of that wicked crew, commonly known by the names of hectors, trapanners, gilts, &c., 2nd edition, page 43:Peeter A portmantle
  4. ^ peter, v.1”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2022.
  5. 5.0 5.1 peter, v.2”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2022; peter1, v.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  6. ^ sā̆l-petre, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  7. ^ † salpetre, n.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2022.

Anagrams

edit

Dutch

edit

Etymology

edit

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

Pronunciation

edit

Noun

edit

peter m (plural peters, feminine meter)

  1. A godfather.
    Synonym: peetoom

Descendants

edit
  • Negerhollands: pepee

Middle English

edit

Adjective

edit

peter

  1. misspelling of petit (small).