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

Eventually, the road peters out into the pier and the sea, where boys wade up to their waists, casting lines into the lazy surf. Horatio Clare, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why You Should Go to Belize Now," 21 Dec. 2018 Icardi's miss proved to essentially be the last kick of the game, and the match petered out to a 0-0 draw., "AC Milan 0-0 Inter: Nightmare Night for Mauro Icardi Leaves Inter Kicking Themselves in Derby Draw," 4 Apr. 2018 Then in the second half of the season, the most ridiculous twist in a series full of ridiculous twists completely undercut the emotional resonance of everything that happened in the first half, and the season mostly petered out. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Every season of American Horror Story so far, ranked," 12 Sep. 2018 But the furious scoring pace didn’t last, as the game petered out. Victor Mather, New York Times, "Shootout Sunday: Croatia Follows Russia’s Lead and Wins on Penalty Kicks," 3 July 2018 But the roadmap has petered out, and the Moto Z lineup itself seems to be getting less ambitious with time. Chris Welch, The Verge, "Motorola Moto Z3 review: identity crisis," 13 Aug. 2018 What happened is the war -- the draft first petered out before the war. Fox News, "The unhinged left," 8 Aug. 2018 Closer to penmanship than painting, this narrow concept of the medium seemed to have petered out a while ago. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "Three Artists, Three Arcs, One Gallery," 31 May 2018 The quarter’s performance was plumped by sales of new hardware that analysts expect to eventually peter out. Ted Greenwald, WSJ, "IBM Reports Higher Revenue, as Quarter Plumped by Sales of New Hardware," 17 Apr. 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

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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Statistics for peter

Last Updated

31 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for peter

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on peter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with peter

Spanish Central: Translation of peter

Nglish: Translation of peter for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on peter

What made you want to look up peter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to deny responsibility for

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