Peter Collins

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Peter Collins or Pete Collins may refer to:


In fiction[edit]

  • Pete Collins, fictional character in British soap opera, Emmerdale

In slang[edit]

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, “Peter Collins” was a circus and theatrical colloquialism in British and American English designating an imaginary or nonexistent person to whom a newcomer or beginner was sent on a silly errand as a kind of initiation (e.g., “Go ask Peter Collins for a left-handed screwdriver”).[1] In underworld slang, it had the additional meaning of “nobody” or “no one.”.[2] In this latter sense, the term was the basis for the pen name “Peter Collinson” (i.e., Peter Collins’s son) used at the very beginning of his writing career by Dashiell Hammett, who later authored The Maltese Falcon and other famous works.[3]


  1. ^ Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, from the Fifteenth Century to the Present Day, 5th ed. [Macmillan, 1961], s.v. “Peter Collins,” p. 620
  2. ^ Otto Penzler, Introduction to “Arson Plus” by Peter Colinson, in The Black Lizard Big Book of “Black Mask” Stories, ed. Otto Penzler, Random House Vintage Books, 2010, p. 32
  3. ^, s.v. Dashiel Hammett,