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[pahy-ker] /ˈpaɪ kər/
noun, Informal.
a person who does anything in a contemptibly small or cheap way.
a stingy, tight-fisted person; tightwad.
a person who gambles, speculates, etc., in a small, cautious way.
Origin of piker
1275-1325; Middle English: petty thief, equivalent to pik(en) to pick1 + -er1; compare dial. (N England, Scots, Hiberno-English) pike to pick1
2. cheapskate, penny pincher, skinflint. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for piker
Historical Examples
  • Siebold, who really was no piker, was slipping on his gloves and having them laced up.

    Radio Boys Loyalty Wayne Whipple
  • No wonder you don't want to stop for any of this piker stuff.

    It Pays to Smile Nina Wilcox Putnam
  • "That was a piker's trick—listening in on me, Dick," he remonstrated half-impatiently.

    Pirates' Hope Francis Lynde
  • "I called for a sport and drew a piker," Jim Searles retorted.

    Cappy Ricks Retires Peter B. Kyne
  • He thinks he's been a piker and that you and I are his first-assistant pikers.

    Cappy Ricks Retires Peter B. Kyne
  • There never was a piker in the Cottle family, was there, Wes?

    Fore! Charles Emmett Van Loan
  • From what you say, this fellow is probably some piker who has left his country for his country's good.

    The Real Man Francis Lynde
  • "That shell was fired to-day," said the 'piker,' authoritatively.

    Bunch Grass Horace Annesley Vachell
  • She threw a small revolver at the 'piker,' who picked it up.

    Bunch Grass Horace Annesley Vachell
  • If you're going to be a crook, don't be a piker—it's too risky.

    Tutt and Mr. Tutt

    Arthur Train
British Dictionary definitions for piker


noun (slang)
(Austral) a wild bullock
(Austral & NZ) a useless person; failure
(US & Austral, NZ) a lazy person; shirker
a mean person
Word Origin
C19: perhaps related to pike³
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for piker

"miserly person," 1872, formerly "poor migrant to California" (1860), earlier pike (1854), perhaps originally "vagrant who wanders the pike (n.1)" (which is the notion in Sussex dialectal piker "vagrant, tramp, gypsy," 1838), but Barnhart, OED and others suggest the American English word ultimately is a reference to people from Pike County, Missouri.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for piker



  1. A mean and stingy person; miser; tightwad (1872+)
  2. A shirker; loafer (1889+)

[originally a vagrant, esp a gambler, who wandered along the pike; hence a poor sport, a cheapskate]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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