Green’s Dictionary of Slang

peeper n.

[SE peep, to look at]

1. (also eye-peeper) an eye, usu. in pl.

[UK]Jacke Juggler Di: Goo or I shall send the hens in the dyuills name [...] nor canst ani maister haue wine shakin, pilorye peepours, [...] or by gods precious I shall breake thy necke.
[UK]R. Fletcher (trans.) Martiall his Epigrams I No. 35 6: Lesbia [...] Thy peepers more than active friends delight.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Peepers c. Eyes.
[UK]N. Ward Hudibras Redivivus II:4 4: No sooner had they fix’d their Peepers / Upon the Life-less Whipper-Snappers.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Noted Highway-men, etc. I 231: He did nothing but stamp and rub his Peepers.
‘John Sheppard’s Last Epistle’ in Dly Jrnl (London) 16 Nov. 1: My Peepers are hid from the Light, / The Tumbler wheels off and I Morris.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[Ire]H. Fitzcotton (trans.) Homer’s Iliad 40: Like old and skilful sleepers, / They clos’d the curtains of their peepers.
[UK]Nancy Dawson’s Jests 36: ’Tis ---- invites you [...] Who lost both his peepers in Venus’s cause.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 301: He [...] Swears by each finger, limb, and peeper, / He has her fast, and fast he’ll keep her.
[UK]J. Messink Choice of Harlequin I viii: My peepers! who’ve we here now? why this is sure Black-Moll.
[Ire]J. O’Keeffe Fontainebleau in Dramatic Works (1798) II 246: When rouz’d by sweet clamour we open our peepers.
[UK]Bon Ton Mag. Mar. 39/1: Receiving a blow in the face, which closed her peepers, she was obliged to give in to her opponent.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Oct. XI 42/1: I took a guinea from my pocket and [held] it up to my peeper.
[UK] Song No. 25 Papers of Francis Place (1819) n.p.: Our peepers are hid from the light, / The tumbril shoves off, and we morrice.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff All at Coventry I ii: Yes, Sir, I’ve doctored some of the learned – drawn claret from Sam [...] closed the peepers of Ikey Pig.
[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress 23: With grinders dislodg’d, and with peepers both poach’d.
[UK]‘Bill Truck’ Man o’ War’s Man (1843) 111: His solitary peeper [was] nearly battened up for ever.
[US]Commercial Advertiser (N.Y.) 20 May 2/2: After a few set-to’s, in which both were treated rather Bluntly they were taken into custody — not for drawing each other’s claret or queering each other’s peepers — but for a breach of the peace.
[US]N.Y. Enquirer 15 Apr. 2/4: The Pink had got his other peeper closed; he then stood no chance; and after a severe blow in the bread-basket, gave in.
[UK]Egan Bk of Sports 25: The left Peeper of Perkins napt it, and the claret followed.
[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker I 293: They grow as thin as a sawed lath, their little peepers are as dull as a boiled codfish, their skin looks like yaller fever.
[US]Whip & Satirist of NY & Brooklyn (NY) 1 Jan. n.p.: The winking and blinking had left him, and his peepers were both open.
[UK]J. Lindridge Sixteen-String Jack 206: A thin gaunt-looking fellow with one eye [...] rejoiced in the appelation of ‘One-Peeper-Tom’.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 11 Oct. 2/5: Scotchie’s left peeper completely benighted.
[US]Life in Boston & N.Y. (Boston, MA) 8 Oct. n.p.: Two beautiful peepers produced by [...] her own man’s pugilistic apparatus.
[Ind]Delhi Sketch Bk 1 July 76/2: With faces as flat as the top of my hat, / And peepers no bigger than peas, peas.
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 191: Then they went to work slogging, Jack delivering a ‘head-acher’ on the ‘wool-grower,’ and Ned one not to be winked at on the ‘peepers’.
Sporting Life (London) 17 Oct. 3/4: Tyler let fly his left duke bang on Gillam’s snorter, and again [...] on the left peeper.
[UK]J. Greenwood Seven Curses of London 91: I’ve often wondered what must be a chap’s feelings when the white cap is pulled over his peepers, and old Calcraft is pawing about his throat, to get the rope right.
[US]G.P. Burnham Memoirs of the US Secret Service 133: The tears came into the ancient hypocrite’s peepers.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 25 Sept. 2/2: Hits out and lands an awful crack / On Joseph’s dexter ‘peeper’.
[UK]M. Davitt Leaves from a Prison Diary I 151: I blakked Polly S—’s peepers who called me names she was fuddled and hit me fust.
[US]Times-Democrat (New Orleans, LA) 9 July 3/6: Prize Ring Slang [...] ‘goggles,’ ‘ogles,’ ‘peepers,’ ‘squinters,’ the eyes.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘A Word with Texas Jack’ in Roderick (1967–9) I 66: The plucky men of Ballarat who toed the scratch right well / And broke the nose of Tyranny and made his peepers swell.
[UK]G.R. Sims ‘Pickpocket Poems’ Dagonet Ditties 93: Then I’d one that struck stars from my peeper.
[UK]Tilly Touchitt 44: Open your pretty eue-peepers again.
[Aus]Riverina Recorder (Moulamein, NSW) 13 Nov. 4/4: The ‘old man’ ought to keep his peepers open.
[UK]B. Pain De Omnibus 55: ’E’d gort a pink-coloured shide over ’is left peeper.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 10 Dec. 21/2: A fight of course. ‘Into him, Ginger!’ ‘Scrag him, Arty!’ Then arose this manly voice, ‘Right in the — peeper. Never mind, rub some sand in it, Ginger.’.
[US]W.M. Raine Wyoming (1908) 136: We set our peepers on Judd.
[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 34: Judge!! I didn’t hardly git in the house before me wife wing me on the peeper wid a loaf of dummy an —.
[Aus]‘Henry Handel Richardson’ Aus. Felix (1971) 31: ‘There’s going to be no trifling with the girl’s feelings, I hope.’ ‘Bosh! But I say, Dick, I wish you’d turn your peepers on ’er.’.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper XL:5 282: I [...] got a reprimand from the boss for not keeping my peepers skinned.
[Aus]E. Dyson ‘The Single-Handed Team’ ‘Hello, Soldier!’ 100: A Hun he crooled me lovely youth / By bombin’ out me right ’and peeper.
[Ire]B. Duffy Rocky Road 156: The first time I clap my peepers on him I’ll tell ye.
[US]H. Roth Call It Sleep (1977) 101: Me peepers are still watherin’!
[UK]Thieves Slang ms list from District Police Training Centre, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Warwicks 8: Peepers: Eyes.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 88: They sure gave me the glad-hand when they laid their peepers on my new car.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 154/2: Peepers. The eyes.
[UK]A. Sillitoe ‘Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner’ in Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (1960) 22: What I don’t know [...] is which of us was the first bastard to latch his peeper’s on that bakers’ backyard.
[Aus]B. Humphries Barry McKenzie [comic strip] in Complete Barry McKenzie (1988) 18: First bit of decent pom talent I’ve clapped peepers on.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 76: Her pig peepers were two sexy dancers in [...] her cute Pekingese face.
[UK] (ref. to 1930s) R. Barnes Coronation Cups and Jam Jars 71: He’d get as close as he could to you, and take out his glass peeper. It’d fair turn you over.
[Ire]J. Morrow Confessions of Proinsias O’Toole 98: They’d soon straighten your peepers, no trouble.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 401: He was watching the proceedings on the small screen. His peepers bulged.
[US]R. Campbell Wizard of La-La Land (1999) 1: Still getting used to the loss of one peeper.
[Ire]P. McCabe Breakfast on Pluto 37: I simpered and would those peepers answer: ‘Yes!’.
[UK]Guardian G2 14 Sept. 6: Saggy, baggy flesh removed from above and below a pair of blue peepers.
[US]E. Weiner Drop Dead, My Lovely (2005) 86: She batted her pea-green peepers at me.
[Aus] A. Bergen ‘Dread Fellow Churls’ in Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] While I was blinking rapidly that peeper over there walked the same beat.

2. a looking-glass, a mirror.

[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn).
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Peeper c. a Looking-glass. Track the Dancers, and pike with the Peepers, c. whip up the Stairs, and trip off with the Looking-glass.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit 194: Track the Dancers and pike with the Peepers [Go up Stairs and tip off with the Looking-glass].
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]B.M. Carew Life and Adventures.
[UK]Scoundrel’s Dict. 18: A Looking glass – Peeper.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.

3. glass, e.g. a window.

[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit 195: The Ratling-mumper broke the Ratling peeper [The Coach-beggar has broken the Coach-glass].
[UK]Dr Saman Golden Cabinet of Secrets [as cit. 1707].

4. a telescope, a spy-glass.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.

5. in pl., spectacles.

[UK] in Jamieson Etym. Dict. Scot. Lang. n.p.: Peepers... a cant term for spectacles.

6. a police officer; a security officer, e.g. in a hotel.

[UK]A.N. Lyons Arthur’s 23: We come to a landlord as was a Guardian, an’ ’e set the peepers after us.
[US]R. Chandler Lady in the Lake (1952) 207: I’m allergic to house peepers.
[US]R. Chandler Little Sister 47: Who’s the house peeper here now?

7. (US) in pl., sunglasses.

W. Coleman Mambo Hips 141: Always in those immortal black-on-black sunglasses. ‘Those are some peepers, Josey.’.
D. Barry Chivalry of Crime 42: Snap up your hand, boy, and trust your eyes, said Mr. Ford. Even if you do wear peepers.

8. a private investigator, with implications of voyeurism.

[US]R. Chandler ‘Red Wind’ in Red Wind (1946) 51: You look O.K. to me [...] for a keyhole peeper.
[US]Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 19 Feb. 11/7: [of a gossip columnist] We of the infamous clan of keyhole peepers.
[US]J. Evans Halo in Blood (1988) 104: I don’ forget that kick in the shins, peeper.
[US]R. Chandler Long Good-Bye 294: ‘A two-bit peeper,’ Menendez said slowly, ‘figures he can make a monkey out of Mendy Menendez.’.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 147: peepers [...] 2. those who use their eyes professionally – detectives, spies, etc.
[US]Cincinnati Enquirer (OH) 1 Feb. 45/4: Sledge [...] says he’s a P.I., a shamus, [...] a snooper, a peeper.
[US]E. Weiner Drop Dead, My Lovely (2005) 48: We go by many names: private eye, peeper, flatfoot, gumshoe [etc.].

9. a Peeping Tom, a voyeur.

[Aus]Aus. Women’s Wkly 13 July 44/1: He was grinning with the ugly, cold satisfaction of the peeper.
[Aus]Mail (Adelaide) 9 Oct. 3/4: Hardest type of peeping tom to catch was the mid-summer daylight peper [...] gazing at girls sunbathing.
[Aus]Mirror (Perth) 7 Nov. 1/2: This summer is to be a gala season for perverts, pwolers and peepers.
[Aus]Aus. Women’s Wkly 18 Nov. 69/1: Certainly a window peeper was a twisted human being, both unstable and unpredictable.
[UK]G.F. Newman Sir, You Bastard 48: I have an arrangement with the peeper across the road.
[UK]P. Robinson Gallows View (2002) 203: Bloody hell, you think I’m that peeping Tom, don’t you? You think I’m the bloody peeper!
[UK]G. Burn Happy Like Murderers 141: He was a peeper. Such an appetite he had for just looking.
[US]C. Hiaasen Nature Girl 203: Eugene Fonda confronted him as if he were a common restroom peeper.

In phrases

painted peeper (n.)

a black eye; in pl., a pair of black eyes.

By-stander 134: Boxing is another tragedy [...] Painted peepers, bloody snotches, and punches in the bread-basket [...] are now almost ‘sport for Indies’.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 249: He had one of his ribs broken, sprained his right wrist, and sports a painted peeper.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn).
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[US]Berrey & Van den Bark Amer. Thes. Sl. §121.23: blackened eye, painted peeper.
peel one’s peepers (v.) (also peel one’s peeps)

to keep a lookout; to look wide-eyed.

[US]L.A. Dly Herald 20 June 7/2: A deputy sheriff of the county where the murder was committed arrived in Los Angeles with both his peepers peeled for a glimpse of Scott.
[US]Roanoke Times (VA) 27 Aug. 9/1: Our peepers are peeled when we get in their neighborhood.
[US]A.H. Lewis ‘Crime That Failed’ in Sandburrs 81: Youse may well peel your peeps!
[UK]E. Pugh City of the World 275: Why, he keeps himself warm in the monkey-house near the sign and peels his peepers.
[US]Warren Sheaf (Marshall Co., MN) 14 May 13/3: After having our peepers peeled a long time for an Assistant Scoutmaster, we have finally landed one.
peeper in mourning (n.)

a black eye; usu. in pl.

[UK]Egan Boxiana II 43: His peepers were taken measure of for a suit of mourning .
[UK]Egan Bk of Sports 192: His right hand was a little puffed, and his right peeper in mourning.
[UK]Exeter & Plymouth Gaz. 3 Oct. 4/2: My left ‘peeper’ was in mourning.
[UK]Era (London) 26 Jan. 10/3: Weston’s left peeper was in a suit of mourning, while the claret was visible from his box of ivories.
[US]Prairie News (Okloria, MS) 9 June 2/3: Walked into my bed room. — Bed post made a ‘pass’ at me. I dodged and ‘let it’ with a right on bed post’s peeper. result of round No. 1 was, bed post’s peeper in mourning.
[UK]Fun 21 Sept. 11/2: Why is the Daily News like a black eye? Because it is a mourning peeper.
[US]Eve. Star (Wash., DC) 23 Sept. 1/5: They [...] blazed away at each other, Con getting his right peeper put in mourning.
[US]Eaton Democrat (OH) 27 Jan. 3/2: Shinn’s left peeper went into full mourning.
[US]Blue-Grass Blade (Lexicington, KY) 13 Feb. 4/3: He was secured after a struggle in which the attendant got one of his peepers in mourning.
Fore’s Sporting Notes 8 192: The bargee tapped the noble claret, put the noble peepers in mourning, and otherwise made it so hot for the noble Marquis.
[US]Rock Is. Argus (IL) 2 Mar. 3/2: One of his peepers is now decorated in mourning.
[US]Ottumwa Tri-Wkly Courier (IA) 24 Dec. 3/1: His fist went straight home and [...] the left peeper of ‘Knocker John’ is in mourning.
[UK]Yorks. Post 29 Nov. 3/8: A fancy Dan [...] against a stumblebum [...] without either suffering a peeper in mourning.