Green’s Dictionary of Slang

peter n.3

(UK/US Und.)

1. [mid-17C–1930s] (also peeter, petter, pitter) a trunk, a bundle, a bag or parcel of any kind.

2. [late 18C+] a safe or cash-box, a cash register, a till.

3. [mid-19C] (US Und.) a receiver of stolen property.

4. [late 19C] (US tramp) a safebreaker.

5. [late 19C+] (Aus.) a witness box; thus mount the peter v. , to enter the witness box.

6. [1930s+] (also pete) a cell, whether in jail, a police station or elsewhere, thus also a prison.

7. [1930s] (Aus.) in a gambling game, the surface onto which dice are thrown.

8. [1960s+] (N.Z.) a half-gallon jar [? fig. use of proper name Peter, based on its ety., Gk petros, a stone].

In compounds

peter-biter (n.) [bite v. (2)]

1. [mid-19C-1930s] (UK Und.) one who steals luggage.

2. [1990s+] (UK Und.) a safe-blower.

peter-claimer (n.) [claim v. (1)]

[late 19C] (UK Und.) one who steals unguarded parcels and bags from railway stations.

peter-claiming (n.) [claim v. (1)]

[late 19C] stealing unguarded parcels and bags from railway stations.

peter-cutter (n.) (also petter-cutter)

[mid-19C] an implement used to break into safes.

peter-drag (n.) [drag n.1 (1b)]

[19C] the stealing of boxes, parcels, bags etc, esp. from carriages.

peter-gee (n.) [gee n.3 (1)]

[1940s] (US Und.) a safe-cracker.

peter-hunting (n.)

[19C] (UK Und.) the stealing of baggage and boxes.

peter lay (n.) [lay n.3 (1)]

[early 18C–early 19C] (UK Und.) the stealing of baggage and boxes.

peterman (n.)

1. [early 19C+] a safecracker.

2. [mid-19C] a thief who specializes in stealing goods from the back of vans and carts.

peter-nicking (n.) [nick v.1 (3)]

[1900s–10s] (Aus.) stealing from tills.

peter-puller (n.)

[late 19C] (Aus.) a thief of packages, parcels, suitcases, etc.

peter-screwing (n.) [screw v. (4a)]

[mid-19C+] breaking open safes.

In phrases

peter-sneaker (n.)

[late 19C] (Aus. und.) a till thief.

peter thief (n.)

[1980s+] (Aus. prison) one who steals from a fellow prisoner’s cell.

peter work (n.)

[1930s] safe-breaking.

bite the peter (v.) [bite v. (2)]

[late 17C–19C] to steal suitcases or portmanteaux.

black peter (n.)

[1920s+] (Aus.) a cell for solitary confinement.

nap a peter (v.) [nap v.1 (6)]

[late 19C] (UK Und.) steal luggage from a carriage.

on the peter

[1940s] (US Und.) working as a safebreaker.

shoot a peter (v.)

[1940s] (US Und.) to blow open a safe.

turn peter (v.) [New Testament imagery]

[1910s] (Aus.) to testify against.