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 Those therapies were licensed to companies, but government and commercial interest evaporated when those viral outbreaks petered out. Karin Brulliard, Carolyn Y. Johnson, Anchorage Daily News, "Quest for a coronavirus treatment involves door-to-door blood collection and a llama named Winter," 7 May 2020 But after 2009, the effort to create a large ventilator stockpile petered out. Justin Elliott, ProPublica, "How New York City’s Emergency Ventilator Stockpile Ended Up on the Auction Block," 6 Apr. 2020 That was all well and good, but Dave Snell, whose career had petered out at Class AA in the Mariners organization in 1988, gave his son a dose of tough love. Larry Stone, The Seattle Times, "With encouragement from dad, Shorewood’s Blake Snell grows into MLB All-Star," 16 July 2018 My family lives on a very quiet road that peters out at the foot of a mountain and turns into an old logging track. Dan Chiasson, The New York Review of Books, "Pandemic Journal," 21 Apr. 2020 But that Democratic turnout boost may have dissipated as the Democratic nominating fight petered out, turning a race in which the liberal court candidate was once widely seen as the favorite into a truly open-ended contest. Craig Gilbert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Joe Biden tops Bernie Sanders to capture Wisconsin's Democratic presidential primary," 13 Apr. 2020 That's a risky bet because the investments might become worthless if the coronavirus crisis peters out after a few months. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "At Trump’s request, Ford and GM help ventilator makers boost output," 24 Mar. 2020 Remdesivir has been around the block during previous pandemics, fizzling out in clinical trials or fading away when other outbreaks petered out. al, "Alabama research offers hope in the fight against coronavirus," 21 Mar. 2020 Glanny Lozano @glanny_lozano no one defends peters right to bang more than barb & peter sr. Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire, "Peter Weber Shut Down Mom Barbara After That Now-Famous Crying Moment," 10 Mar. 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

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Peter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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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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