Green’s Dictionary of Slang

peck v.1

1. (orig. UK Und.; later use US black) to eat.

[UK]R. Copland Hye way to the Spyttel House Eiii: Cyarum by salmon and thou shalt pek my iere / In thy gan for my watch it is nace gere.
[UK]Dekker Lanthorne and Candle-Light Ch. 1: [as cit. c.1535].
[UK]Rowlands Martin Mark-all 39: Pecke is taken to eate or byte: as the Buffa peckes me by the stampes, the dogge bites me by the shines.
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue I 36: Most part of the night we spent in Boozing, pecking rumly or wapping.
[UK]Levellers: A Dial. concerning Matrimony in Harleian Misc. V (1810) 454: So they all fell heartily to pecking till they had consumed the whole provision.
[UK]Canting Academy, or the Pedlar’s-French Dict. 111: Eat much, eat little, Peck rum, Peck quer.
[Ire]J. O’Keeffe London Hermit (1794) 20: Bite. I wish we had dinner [...] I’m quite peckish. Poz. You peck’d all the way at the ham and cold fowls.
[UK]Annals of Sporting 1 May 345: He was pecking and boozing more than usual.
[UK]J. Nyren Cricketers of My Time (1902) 96: They could no more have pecked in that style than they could have flown, had the infernal black stream [...] which soddens the carcass of a Londoner, been the fertilizer of their clay.
[UK]C. Reade It Is Never Too Late to Mend III 332: He complains that ‘he can’t peck,’ [...] living almost entirely on cock-a-doodle broth.
[UK]R. Whiteing Mr Sprouts, His Opinions 52: We commences peckin’ at half-past six.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 249: Peck to eat voraciously. A hearty eater is generally called ‘a rare pecker.’ Originally peck was to eat delicately, ‘but we have changed all that now’.
[UK]J. Greenwood Tag, Rag & Co. 91: ’Pon my sivey, if you was to see her pecking you’d think she was laying on pounds’ weight in a day instead of losing it.
Ledger (Noblesville, IN) 14 Aug. 6/2: ‘Say, ain’t it time to “peck”?’.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘Old, But New’ Sporting Times 6 Mar. 1/2: I find I have a thirst, / And could also peck a bit.
[US]H. Simmons Corner Boy 82: Let’s go somewhere and peck.
[Ire](con. 1930s) J. Healy Death of an Irish Town in Irish Times n.p.: We went back to the doss house and there was a meal. I couldn’t peck it, cove; anyway I had a rake of sandwiches me mother made me and I pecked them and went to bed [BS].
[UK](con. 1960s) D. Wells Night People 107: I didn’t peck yet.
[US](con. 1960s) D. Goines Black Gangster (1991) 9: I guess don’t none of these boys want to peck today.
[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].

2. to bite.

[UK]Skelton Colyn Cloute (1550) Aii: He cryeth and he creketh He pryeth and he peketh.
[UK]Rowlands Martin Mark-all n.p.: The Buffa peckes me by the stampes, the dogge bites me by the shinnes.

3. (UK Und.) of a pickpocket, to put one’s hand into a victim’s pocket [image of a bird ‘pecking’ at the pocket].

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 42/1: All at one time coursing through Brighton, ‘pecking’ and ‘dipping’ into almost every ‘kick’ that passed along.