pe·​ter | \ ˈpē-tər How to pronounce peter (audio) \
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 How to pronounce Peter (audio) \

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 How to pronounce Peter (audio) \

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 But the effect can peter out over time, and fatigue and despair may follow, experts say. New York Times, "U.S. Suicides Declined Over All in 2020 but May Have Risen Among People of Color," 15 Apr. 2021 But, by design, the economic benefits will peter out fairly quickly after that. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "Travel stocks continue their astounding comeback," 9 Apr. 2021 As Wilder has experienced, a diversity initiative can peter out quickly. Lydia Depillis, ProPublica, "Black-Owned Firms Are Less Likely to Receive All of the Financing They Apply for Than Firms With Non-Black Owners," 5 Mar. 2021 The results show that a Tasmanian devil with the face cancer transmits it to only one of its peers on average, which means that the disease may peter out. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Study Offers Hope for Tasmanian Devils, Once Thought Doomed by Infectious Cancer," 14 Dec. 2020 The rotation will peter out, says Mitch Rubin, chief investment officer who oversees $1.6 billion at RiverPark Capital Management LLC. Katherine Greifeld,, "Star Managers With Lots to Lose Are Unmoved by Tech Rout," 16 Nov. 2020 This observation explains why many infection chains simply peter out on their own. Lars Fischer, Scientific American, "The Real Danger Posed by Coronavirus-Infected Mink," 11 Nov. 2020 Hurricane Paulette made landfall in Bermuda On Monday, and will likely peter out over the open ocean in the coming days. Popular Science, "A nearly unprecedented cluster of tropical storms are brewing in the Atlantic," 15 Sep. 2020 The goal is to get that number below 1, meaning the virus will eventually peter out. Mark Olalde, USA TODAY, "California COVID-19 cases spiked after July 4th. Family gatherings helped the spread, experts say.," 3 Aug. 2020

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

Noun (1)

circa 1902, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

before the 12th century, 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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Time Traveler for peter

Time Traveler

The first known use of peter was before the 12th century

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Statistics for peter

Last Updated

29 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Peter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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Nglish: Translation of peter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of peter for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about peter

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