Archive for November 12, 2010

intransitive phrasal verb: peter out

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I have another intransitive phrasal verb for you today, and it is “peter out”. Normally “Peter” is a man’s name, and we don’t use it as a verb except in the case of the phrasal verb “peter out”. It is used when we want to talk about something becoming less and less until it gradually stops. For example:

The applause slowly petered out after the band left the stage.

At first, everyone had a lot of enthusiasm for the project, but it eventually petered out when they found out how much work it was.

We had many customers when we first opened our store, but they have really petered out since the shopping mall was built down the street.

I think interest in our product is petering out. Maybe it’s time we started to advertise it again.

We often use this expression when talking about positive emotional responses such as enthusiasm, interest, excitement, etc. We DON’T use it when talking about something negative gradually stopping.

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