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 Hockenson had a record-setting debut with six catches for 131 yards and a touchdown, but his production has petered off over the last 11 games. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Assessing Detroit Lions' 11-member rookie class: The good, the bad, the future," 1 Dec. 2019 Just as woody plants outgrow their spaces, grasses and perennials peter out after a few years. Washington Post, "The winter garden is full of promise and productivity. Don’t let it go to waste.," 20 Nov. 2019 But the evening petered out into a splendid stillness. Stanley Stewart, Condé Nast Traveler, "You Haven't Seen the Colombian Coast Without Time in Providencia," 11 Oct. 2019 Yet since the anarchists’ exit, coincidentally or not, the protest has petered out. The Economist, "Lessons from Bloody Harlan," 26 Sep. 2019 The half petered out thereafter and big predictions were made about how the second 45 would go..., "Rangers: Twitter Reacts to 'Drab' Performance as Lacklustre Gers Limp Past St Mirren," 25 Aug. 2019 The yellow vest movement that emerged 10 months ago petered out this summer, after weekly protests that led to often-violent clashes with police in Paris and other cities. CBS News, "Police use tear gas in Paris against anti-government protesters," 21 Sep. 2019 The demonstrations finally petered out this summer. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Paris police repeatedly use tear gas on day of protests," 21 Sep. 2019 In Africa or SouthEast Asia, infrastructure often peters out at borders. The Economist, "Europe’s long vacation flight home," 29 Aug. 2019

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

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Peter.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 5 December 2019.

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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

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