“peep” 1889
Posted: 06 April 2018 07:41 AM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  370
Joined  2007-02-13

Here is a bit of doggerel, published in 1889, about when New York catcher “Buck” Ewing starts to “kick,” i.e. to argue with the umpire.  What does this use of “peep” mean?  My guess is that it has something to do with Ewing taking off his mask, but I can’t figure out the precise meaning of this bit of obsolete slang:

When Ewing strikes an attitude
And liberates his “peep,”
The people on the bleaching boards
Lay down and fall asleep.
The batters all play mumbly-peg:
The umpire feels quite sick.
The players in the field lay down
When “Buck” begins his kick.

He kicks at balls, he kicks at strikes,
He kicks at everything.
When something fails to suit his “nibs,”
His little song he’ll sing.
They tell him this, they tell him that,
But to his tune he’ll stick.
They lose an hour, more or less,
When “Buck” beings to kick.

Posted: 06 April 2018 07:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  839
Joined  2013-10-14

What does this use of “peep” mean?  My guess is that it has something to do with Ewing taking off his mask, but I can’t figure out the precise meaning of this bit of obsolete slang:


b. Chiefly in negative contexts: a slight sound or utterance; a single remark or communication; an expression of complaint.
(not) to play peep (Sc.): (not) to utter a sound.
1808 J. Jamieson Etymol. Dict. Sc. Lang. at Pepe He dares na play peep… He dares not mutter.
1894 P. H. Hunter James Inwick p. iii The verra weans dursna play peep till he was düne.
1908 R. W. Chambers Firing Line xxiv. 411 Nobody’s heard a peep from you. What on earth do you mean by this?
1928 S. Lewis Man who knew Coolidge i. 13 I’d never made a peep about how maybe it’d be a good stunt for him to go out and maybe earn a little money on the side.
1954 Picture Post 2 Jan. 34/3 One more peep out of you, Mister, and I’ll get the boys to push you and your b—— stall in the oggin.
1992 R. H. Limbaugh Way Things ought to Be xvii. 191 The feminists came in to meet with the management, and they rolled over without a peep.
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c. A brief, high-pitched sound produced mechanically or electronically; a beep.
1957 Electronic Engin. 29 127/1 It is a blocking oscillator of simple design, and makes a ‘peep’ each time the heart beats.
1971 Times 20 Dec. 2/5 The pips of the BBC time signal are to be joined by a peep at midnight on December 31.
1995 Miami Herald (Nexis) 20 Oct. 1 b The friendly peeps of the car horns are sounding almost constantly.
2002 BusinessWorld (Philippines) (Nexis) 30 Aug.  The contraptions [sc. radio pagers] were capable of emitting only two types of sound (as in peep-peep-peep-peep or a long peep).
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B. int.
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Representing the feeble, high-pitched sound or cheep typically made by a young bird, mouse, etc. In later use also: representing a high-pitched mechanical or electronic beep. (Frequently reduplicated).
a1500 (▸?a1450) Gesta Romanorum (BL Add. 9066) (1879) 364 A mouse on a tyme felle into a barell of newe ale..The Cate come beside, and herde the mouse Crie in the barme, ‘pepe! pepe!’ for she myght not come out.
▸ ?a1500 R. Henryson tr. Æsop Fables: Two Mice l. 308 in Poems (1981) 15 How fair ȝe, sister? Cry peip, quhair euer ȝe be!
c1500 (▸?a1437) Kingis Quair (1939) lvii (MED) Now, suete bird, say ones to me ‘pepe’ [rhyme slepe].
1636 W. Prynne Unbishoping of Timothy & Titus To Rdr. 8 As a Poppet, which springeth up and downe, and cryeth Peepe, Peepe.
1823 C. Lamb Praise of Chimney-sweepers in Elia 249 Their little professional notes sounding like the peep peep of a young sparrow.
1880 R. Jefferies Round about Great Estate 91 Then the hedge-sparrows..cry ‘peep-peep’ mournfully.
1981 B. Head Serowe p. ix It is always one bird that starts the day for me, outside my window,..just a kind of hesitant ‘peep-peep’.
2004 Daily Tel. (Nexis) 3 Jan. 29 Peep, peep, peep, peep, peep! The alarm interrupts Tatworld’s training for the big sleepover.
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This entry has been updated (OED Third Edition, September 2005).
Entry history
Entry profile

Previous version:
OED2 (1989)
In this entry:
(not) to play peep
In other dictionaries:
peep (2): view definition in Oxford Dictionaries?
pepe, n. in Middle English Dictionary

Posted: 06 April 2018 09:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  307
Joined  2007-02-16

Usually I take it to mean, ‘not another peep out of you’, as when said to a voluble child by mother, etc. However, in the context described above by the OP I’d say ‘peep’ is a euphemistic version of ‘rant’.

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