- to diminish gradually and stop; dwindle to nothing: The hot water always peters out in the middle of my shower.
- to tire; exhaust (usually used as a past participle): I'm petered out after that walk.
Origin of peter1
- (intr; foll by out or away) to fall (off) in volume, intensity, etc, and finally ceasethe cash petered out in three months
- to play a high card before a low one in a suit, usually a conventional signal of a doubleton holding or of strength in that suit
- the act of petering
- a safe, till, or cash box
- a prison cell
- the witness box in a courtroom
- mainly US a slang word for penis
- Saint. Also called: Simon Peter. died ?67 ad, a fisherman of Bethsaida, who became leader of the apostles and is regarded by Roman Catholics as the first pope; probably martyred at Rome. Feast day: June 29 or Jan 18
- either of two epistles traditionally ascribed to Peter (in full The First Epistle and The Second Epistle of Peter)
Word Origin and History for peter out
masc. proper name, 12c., from Old English Petrus (genitive Pet(e)res, dative Pet(e)re), from Latin Petrus, from Greek Petros, literally "stone, rock," translation of Syriac kefa "stone" (Latinized as Cephas), nickname Jesus gave to apostle Simon Bar-Jona (Matt. xvi:17), historically known as St. Peter, and consequently a popular name among Christians (e.g. Italian Pietro, Spanish and Portuguese Pedro, Old French Pierres, French Pierre, etc.). Slang for "penis" is attested from 1902, probably from identity of first syllable.
The common form of this very common name in medieval England was Peres (Anglo-French Piers), hence surnames Pierce, Pearson, etc. Among the diminutive forms were Parkin and Perkin. To rob Peter to pay Paul (1510s, also in early 17c. French as descouvrir S. Pierre pour couvrir S. Pol) might be a reference to the many churches dedicated to those two saints, and have sprung from the fairly common practice of building or enriching one church with the ruins or revenues of another. But the alliterative pairing of the two names is attested from c.1400 with no obvious connection to the saints:
Sum medicyne is for peter þat is not good for poul, for þe diuersite of complexioun. [Lanfranc's "Chirurgia Magna," English translation]
"cease, stop," 1812, of uncertain origin. To peter out "become exhausted," is 1846 as miners' slang. Related: Petered; petering.
Chief among the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, he was a fisherman, originally named Simon (and often called Simon Peter). Jesus gave him the name Rock, of which “Peter” is a translation. Peter showed great faith but also exhibited great failings (see Get thee behind me, Satan). In the frightening hours before the Crucifixion, Peter three times denied being a follower of Jesus, just as Jesus had predicted he would. Nevertheless, Peter went on to become the leader of the early Christians (see also Christian) (see Pentecost), thus fulfilling another prophecy of Jesus, who had said of Peter, “Upon this rock I will build my church.... And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”
Idioms and Phrases with peter out
Dwindle or diminish and come to an end, as in Their enthusiasm soon petered out. The origin of this usage is unknown, but one authority suggests it may refer to the apostle Peter, whose enthusiastic support of Jesus quickly diminished so that he denied knowing him three times during the night after Jesus's arrest. [Mid-1800s]