One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1North American A gambler who makes only small bets.
backer, staker, speculator, risk-taker, betterView synonyms
- ‘He had a temperament too generous for his occupation as our county's leading piker (my mother insisted to her clients he was a speculator, not a gambler).’
- 1.1 A mean or cautious person.
2Australian NZ A person who withdraws from a plan, commitment, etc.
- ‘I was the ultimate piker, early-nighter, spoil-sport, party-pooper, etc.’
- ‘There were a number of pikers to the dinner, including Mrs Lefty, who was stuck at work doing reports until about 9.30 pm.’
- ‘It seems rather apropos that everyone else found it too much hassle to enter - pikers!’
- ‘Not that that isn't fun, but I'm a first class piker who refuses to do it too much.’
- ‘In terms of brutality, systematic repression, number of killings, relish for torture and sum total of human misery caused, he was a piker next to that tyrant.’
Late 19th century: from pike.
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