pe·ter | \ ˈpē-tər \
petered; petering; peters

Definition of peter 

(Entry 1 of 4)

intransitive verb

1 : to diminish gradually and come to an end : give out usually used with out novelists whose creative impetus seems largely to have petered outThe Times Literary Supplement (London)

2 : to become exhausted usually used with out


noun (1)

Definition of peter (Entry 2 of 4)

often vulgar

: penis


noun (2)
Pe·ter | \ ˈpē-tər \

Definition of Peter (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : a fisherman of Galilee and one of the twelve apostles

2 : either of two hortatory letters written to early Christians and included as books of the New Testament — see Bible Table


biographical name
Pe·ter | \ ˈpē-tər \

Definition of Peter (Entry 4 of 4)

circa 1050–1115 the Hermit French preacher of the 1st Crusade

Examples of peter in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Cheers and the buzz of the baseball petered out after 391 feet. Hunter Atkins, Houston Chronicle, "Astros' 12-game win streak snapped by Rays," 19 June 2018 New consumer-price data suggest the promotion craze may be petering out. Sarah Krouse, WSJ, "Cellphone Bills Go Up for First Time in Nearly Two Years," 13 July 2018 Ely pointed out that much of this legal wrangling may peter out on its own if the Bureau’s new director is someone with a more business-friendly outlook. NBC News, "Why this SCOTUS candidate could reverse a century of financial regulation," 2 July 2018 But there is hope that this centuries-old prettiest girl drama is in the beginning stages of petering out for good. Elizabeth Wellington,, "Here's to the day when being the prettiest girl in the room won't matter | Elizabeth Wellington," 13 June 2018 The activist surge has surprised some state Democratic organizations, those with sturdy machines and those that had petered out. David Weigel, Washington Post, "A ‘tea party of the left’? Liberal activists learn tough lessons in quest to purify Democratic Party," 24 Mar. 2018 As the second-half wore on the visitors started to tire and Milan were happy to let the game peter out., "AC Milan 1-0 Ludogorets: Rossoneri Book Place in Europa League's Last 16 With Comfortable Victory," 22 Feb. 2018 The original incarnation ran for a decade, though the show’s influence mostly petered out long before the end. Aisha Harris, New York Times, "A Brief History of MTV Trying to Make Old Hits New Again," 21 June 2018 Quickly following the free kick, Portugal shirked yet another chance when an electrifying counter petered out on the edge of the box with a series of passes promptly being dealt with., "Portugal 3-3 Spain: Ronaldo Hat-Trick Cancels Out Costa Double and Nacho Strike in Group B Classic," 15 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'peter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of peter


1846, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for peter


origin unknown

Noun (1)

from the name Peter

Noun (2)

Late Latin Petrus, from Greek Petros, from petra rock

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Phrases Related to peter

peter out

rob Peter to pay Paul

Statistics for peter

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for peter

The first known use of peter was in 1846

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