One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Decrease or fade gradually before coming to an end.‘the storm had petered out’
disappear, vanish into thin air, be lost to sight, be lost to view, be invisible, become invisible, evaporate, dissipate, disperse, fade, fade away, melt away, evanesce, recede from view, withdraw, depart, leave, go awayView synonyms
- ‘The communal disturbance continued for a couple of weeks before petering out.’
- ‘When the door shuts, conversation peters out, expressions sour, a drunk guy in a shiny shirt leans against the wall.’
- ‘In fact you can't - the road peters out at the Beacon, a white landmark on top of a cliff, which looks like a giant coasthouse.’
- ‘The men in green will be disappointed with their performance as their smooth first half petered out in the second.’
- ‘But when I looked up, further downstream, I could see the river narrowing, petering out.’
- ‘By the end, however, the film sort of peters out, and the script falls apart.’
- ‘I go for a run along a river path that quickly peters out and leaves me in an industrial zone.’
- ‘A path petered out a few feet from my washing line at the back.’
- ‘The ending, in particular, is a definite let-down as the script simply peters out in dialogue rather than concluding on the monumental bang Tarantino's been teasing us to expect all along.’
- ‘The ending peters out inconclusively in a welter of playful/sloppy metafictional games.’
- ‘And there the story sort of peters out, I'm afraid.’
- ‘The events of their communities marking the passage of each year were petering out as young people left for the capital cities.’
- ‘Some films peter out purely on lack of effort in developing the main storyline.’
- ‘But the movie doesn't really hold together; apart from the irritating visual style, the script really peters out and most of the performances are played way too broadly.’
- ‘The game looked to be petering out to a drab draw, until Aidan McCarron, the flying Mary's full-forward, was wrestled to the ground inside the square.’
- ‘We never get beyond a three-volley reply situation as conversation peters out after establishing that we're both fine and neither of us cares.’
- ‘We then rewind through the previous stories, expecting everything to come together with a bang, but instead seeing each tale peter out in a whimper.’
- ‘Elsewhere in the city, however, the convulsions of anarchy appeared to be petering out.’
- ‘Gradually Barcelona had petered out in that first half, Ronaldinho in particular.’
- ‘That argument went in circles for a while before petering out in non-resolution.’
Early 19th century: of unknown origin.
1A man's penis.
2NZ Australian A prison cell.
3A safe or trunk.
tickle the peter
informal Steal or embezzle, especially by recording false amounts on a cash register.‘he tickled the peter of a West End company’
- ‘I wasn't a broken-down jockey, or a book-keeper who'd done a stretch for tickling the peter, like the others.’
- ‘He was so utterly rapt in the man that he would tickle the peter for him without compunction.’
- ‘One or two of them have tickled the peter and skedaddled out of the country.’
- ‘I'm a lurker and cheater, I've tickled the peter.’
- ‘It didn't matter what we took, half of it was ours—we just tickled the peter.’
Late Middle English: from the given name Peter, applied in many transferred uses. Current senses date from the 19th century.
verb & nounBridge
- ‘West started by cashing two top diamonds, on which East petered’another term for echo
Late 19th century: from Blue Peter (the invitation to one's partner to play a further lead in the suit being likened to the raising of this flag).
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