Peter out

As a verb peter is usually paired with the word out though it does not have to be. Even alone peter means to lessen or weaken slowly until stopping completely. It may be conjugated through all its forms.

This use of what is normally a name as a verb can be traced to the occupation of mining. A miner would say the material petered if the supply ran dry or gave out. However, there is no consensus as to why the name Peter was chosen specifically.


“It is important that, with six games to go, we don’t let our season peter out after all that we have created over the past few months,” he said. [Gloucester Citizen]

Many times, these investigations have petered out or been dismissed, says Jorge Chabat, a political analyst with the CIDE think tank in Mexico City. [The Wall Street Journal]

Mr Eadon-Clarke expects both the economy and the stock market to “quietly stumble“ through the rest of the year, with much of the positive move in equities petering out as the financial year draws to a close later this month. [Financial Times]


Though the number of cases related to toxic moonshine petered after that, several new ones are now emerging. [The Express Tribune]

But petering momentum in the Japanese shares put downward pressure on the greenback, helping drag it as low as Y119.58. [Nasdaq]

Mid-last year we would have expected investors to peter off following the expiry of capital gains relief at the end of 2014. [Irish Independent]

1 thought on “Peter out”

  1. If flaccid is the opposite of turgid, and both refer to phalluses which are colloquially known as dîcks, peters, johnsons, and so forth, but where “peter” is just about always flaccid, … then it kind of makes sense.

    To peter out ≡ for a pênis to become flaccid.

    Makes more sense than any other etymological postulation I’ve otherwise heard. And yes… I went a-looking into Pennsylvania Dutch, Midwestern Scandinavian and even our Southern French connections to see if something would better stick.



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