Green’s Dictionary of Slang

peanut adj.

(orig. US) second-rate, ‘small-time’.

[US]W. Dunlap Memoirs of a Water Drinker II 25: They were your pea-nut fellows, I suppose.
Life in N.Y. 5 Oct. n.p.: His acting is indentably of the ‘pea-nut’ school.
N.Y. Tribune9 May 6/5: Perhaps [...] he will explain the precise significance of muck-a-muck [...] stating whether [...] ‘trickster’ and ‘peanut politician’ are among its synonyms.
[US]Wash. Standard (Olympia, WA) 5 Sept. 3/2: Three ‘skips’ in a week is something unsual [...] but the principals were doing only a ‘peanut’ business.
[US]S.F. Call 13 Mar. 6/4: Our little peanut Mayor [...] and his pigeon-brained [...] School Board.
G.B. McCutcheon Rose in the Ring 203: I suppose that peanut aristocrat friend of yours has told you it ain’t swell or proper to wear tights [DA].
[US]J. Lait ‘Omaha Slim’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 117: Votin’ don’ do no good. That’s peanut stuff—retail pennyante.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 406: Come on, you dog-gone, bullnecked, beetlebrowed, hogjowled, peanutbrained, weaseleyed four flushers, false alarm and excess baggage!
[US]E.A. Clancy ‘Flies on the Ceiling’ in Detective-Dragnet May 🌐 It suddenly occurred to her peanut mind that she’d like to stop a minute and telephone a friend.
[US]R. Chandler Farewell, My Lovely (1949) 203: Hell, I thought he sold reefers [...] With the right protection behind him. But hell, that’s a small-time racket. A peanut grift.
[US]H. Ellison ‘Students of the Assassin’ in Deadly Streets (1983) 191: You could stay in the peanut division only so long – then you had to move up.
[UK]L. Deighton Horse Under Water (1976) 78: Nerts to those Average Guys [...] they’re just a set of peanut-circuit nogoodniks.
[US]F. Elkins diary in Elkins Heart of a Man (1973) 42: I still had my peanut (standby) gyro.
[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read How to Shoot Friends 113: I didn’t know the husband, but I did know the peanut, two-bob gangster he was in partnership with.
[US]J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 88: I’ll bust a cap upside yo nappy little haid. I crack you little peanut self!
[US]C. Hiaasen Squeeze Me 18: The man wore [...] a peanut microphone clipped to his lapel.

In compounds

peanut politics (n.)

(US) underhand, clandestine politicking, aimed at the securing of minor personal gains; thus peanut politician, one who indulges in such tactics.

N.Y. Mail and Express 27 May n.p.: If the Governor would consent not to play pea-nut politics [R].
[US]Eve. Bulletin (Honolulu) 3 Aug. 4/1: People may be indulging in peanut politics.
[US]Commoner (Lincoln, NE) 16 Dec. 11/2: Its only hope [...] is to utterly cast out the peanut politicians and the bogus democrats.
[US]N.Y. Eve. Post 4 Feb. n.p.: They used to talk about ‘peanut politics’ at Albany, but a peanut is too large and respectable an object to yield a comparison for yesterday’s action of the State Senate [DA].
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 22 Oct. 13/1: Hear the tale of Tincanberra [...] / Where the peanut politicians / Strangled young Australia’s city, / Slew and buried Public Honor / With their rotten reputations!
Morn. Tulsa Dly. World (OK) 4 Apr. 11/1: He is not a bribe taker or a peanut politician.
[US]Wood & Goddard Dict. Amer. Sl.