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 outnovelists 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


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 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 Though the stock dipped when the boycott began attracting major consumer brands, it's bounced back with the expectation that this corporate boycott, like others before it, will peter out. Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY, "Will the Facebook advertising boycott force the social media giant to change? Not likely," 10 Apr. 2018 To get an idea of how dramatically shale wells peter out, consider this: less than 20% of this year’s expected drop in overall U.S. crude output will come from shuttering existing wells, according to IHS Markit Ltd. David Wethe,, "Oil’s Sudden Rebound Is Exposing the Achilles’ Heel of Shale," 26 May 2020 Somewhat surprisingly, the increase peters out at Category 5. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Tropical cyclones are already getting stronger, new dataset shows," 21 May 2020 Her longest and best sentences often peter out into dry vocal fry, like a duffel being slowly unzipped. Giri Nathan, New York Times, "Some Personal News From Samantha Irby," 1 May 2020 Thankfully, the ugly incident petered out after a series of disgusted looks. Matt Villano, CNN, "How to talk to your neighbors about social distancing," 1 May 2020 Mike Mierendorf, 36, a business consultant from Minneapolis who deleted his Facebook account in 2018 as his distrust of the service grew and usage petered out, says he hasn’t been tempted either. Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY, "Facebook and COVID-19: They deleted the app, said goodbye to friends. Then came coronavirus," 4 Apr. 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

19 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Peter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2020.

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More from Merriam-Webster on peter

Nglish: Translation of peter for Spanish Speakers

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

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