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Does My Mother Just Have a Dirty Mind?

My husband and I are expecting a sweet baby boy in a few months. We are seriously considering the name "Peter." My mother, heaven bless her, insists that our son will be teased since Peter is a slang word for penis. Is this true? I've never heard anyone else say this, but if it is I don't want to inflict that on a little boy. What are your thoughts? Will he be teased?

--Potential Parents of Peter

Grandma's got it both right and wrong. While it's true that the word "peter" was occasional used in the way she fears in the past, the slang is no longer current today. You could even say it has "petered out." After all, you've never heard that usage, which should be reassuring.

Peter is a classic name that might appeal to you because it's familiar, yet not common. It peaked back in the 1950s, and now sits comfortably in the 200 ranks in popularity. It's traditional, masculine, and solid. That's what people will hear when they hear the name.

So while I'd probably advise against using Dick as a nickname for Richard in this day and age, Peter doesn't pose the same problem. After all, there are still plenty of baby boys being named John, even though we're still using the word "john" in more than one unflattering way. There are boys named Cooper and Tucker who seem to be surviving the potential for rhyming taunts just fine.

If you love the name Peter, use it. There are no tease-proof names, but schoolkids are more accepting of varied names than in back in parents' — and grandparents' — days. (And you can always call him Pete!)


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June 15, 2014 2:50 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Mom to a Peter here--no one that I'm aware of has ever mentioned this slang to either him or me. Go for it! It's a great name.

June 16, 2014 10:48 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I know a Peter who is now in his early 20s and he never encountered problems because of that particular slang usage.

I agree with the name lady, that particular slang term has died out. I am aware of it, but can't remember the last time I heard it used. Perhaps early elementary school (so 40'ish years ago).

June 16, 2014 12:23 PM
By Megan (not verified)

Depends on context. A Harold Peter might cause problems.

June 16, 2014 3:05 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with everyone else. No one uses that slang anymore.

June 16, 2014 5:58 PM
By carrie (not verified)

10-12 years ago in middle school when Peter the Rabbit was mentioned in class one day a bunch of boys started giggling over 'Peter'

dont think it'll ever be dead.

plus there is the Peter, Paul, & Mary threesome correlation too, its even in a Britney Spears song.

June 17, 2014 8:34 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

We talked about naming our first son Peter. I had never heard the slang term, hubby vetoed the name because of the slang.

After I didn't bring the name up for boy #2, my husband asked me why we never considered the name Peter.

I think it is a terrific underused, classic boys name that has equivalents in many languages, a plus in my book!

June 17, 2014 12:14 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I don't think that slang reference is dead. People I grew up with who's names are Richard and Peter, both most definitely got made fun of with penis references. (I'm in my 30's now). Maybe it depends upon your location whether its known as slang or not? But keep in mind, if kids want to make fun of someone, they will always find a way no matter how tease-proof you think your name is. Go with what you want to call him.

June 17, 2014 12:25 PM
By Erin (not verified)

I love the name Peter and would strongly consider using it, but the same concern holds me back, especially since we already have a William who sometimes call Willie. It seems like brothers with penis reference names might be a little too much! But my love of Peter might win out anyway!

June 17, 2014 2:28 PM
By Chrispy (not verified)

I just polled my sons who are in the thick of the giggle-at-the-dirty-name phase. Uncomfortable grin at Dick. Nothing for Peter. It may still be around but isn't nearly as prevalent. (My husband has a co-worker whose name is Peter and his last name is also slang for penis. It was more prevalent when he was growing up.)

June 17, 2014 2:38 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

any male name can be used as slang for "penis"...if that's what you're into. I've only heard "Peter" used that way once in my lifetime...and it was by a lady asking a boy if it was his peter that was hit by the football...the year was 1987, or thereabouts. Its memorable because, at the time, I thought it was an odd thing to call it.

June 17, 2014 5:18 PM
By Juulie with two "u's" (not verified)

I'd be more concerned about the joke: Pete and Re-Pete were sitting on a wall. Pete fell off. Who was left?


Pete and Re-Pete were sitting...

June 17, 2014 9:39 PM
By Debbie S. (not verified)

The only reason I know of the slang is from watching too many episodes of "Family Guy" where the lead character is Peter Griffin. They definitely play off that joke many times (including how his double chin is drawn... just sayin'). Still, I wouldn't think anything of it if I met a boy named Peter. I would probably first think of Peter Parker a.k.a. Spiderman :)

June 20, 2014 6:43 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I am married to a Peter. He's in his mid 30s. And while he does admit that from time to time he was teased in school by someone, he said it was never really a problem. Just normally one kid trying to be funny.

It's a great name.

June 22, 2014 5:18 AM
By elleireland (not verified)

Yah it's slang, but so are many other terms. It's a good name.

I always say, beware of the rhyme. For example, if I hear the name Lexi, I think "sexy." If I hear the name Stacy I think "racy." But the name Peter? No weird rhymes.

July 10, 2014 2:15 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I'm in my 30's and have a strong association between Peter and the slang term. I've never liked the name to begin with, and would never consider using it due to its association with penis.

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