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petard an explosive device formerly used in warfare to breach a defensive fortification.
petcock a small valve or faucet used to drain from or lower the pressure in a pipe, boiler, steam engine, or the like.
Peter one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ and a leader in the establishment of the Christian church, often considered the first pope. [2 definitions]
peter (informal) to dwindle gradually to the point of stopping or disappearing altogether (usu. fol. by out).
Peter Pan the title character of J.M. Barrie's early twentieth-century play, a young boy who never grows up.
Peter Paul Rubens a Flemish painter (b.1577--d.1640).
Peter Principle the satiric idea that employees of large organizations tend to be promoted until they reach the level at which they are incompetent.
petiole the thin stalk by which a leaf is attached to a stem. [2 definitions]
petit less serious or important in law; minor.
petit bourgeois of the lower middle class, esp. in a capitalist society.
petite of a girl or woman, short and slender. [2 definitions]
petit four a small fancy teacake, usu. cut from spongecake, that is frosted on three sides and often decorated.
petition a formal request that is usu. written, often signed by many people, and addressed to an authority that is empowered to grant some right or benefit. [7 definitions]
petit jury a group of twelve citizens selected to witness a civil or criminal trial and empowered to decide, after discussing the evidence and issues presented, whether a defendant is guilty or not. (Cf. grand jury.)
petit larceny see petty larceny.
petit mal a form of epilepsy characterized by unconsciousness for short periods of time, but usu. no convulsions. (Cf. grand mal.)
petit point embroidery done on a canvas backing and resembling woven tapestry. [2 definitions]
petnapping the stealing of pets in order to sell them, as for use in laboratory experiments.
Petrarch an Italian poet; Francesco Petrarca (1304-74).
Petrarchan sonnet an Italian sonnet form made popular by Petrarch, consisting of an octave and a sestet. (Cf. Shakespearean sonnet.)
petrel any of various related sea birds usu. found far from shore, esp. the storm petrel.