Pick a peck

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Indonesian - English
One of the most popular tongue twister says,
'Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers'.
I have no idea what 'pick a peck' means.
  • Riverby

    Senior Member
    NZ English
    A peck is a quantity measuring volume (see Wikipedia). Thus Peter picked this quantity of peppers. Of course, when you pick peppers from a bush, they're not pickled.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    American English
    Welcome to the forum, where we know almost everything (together, anyway). :)

    From Associated Content: A bushel as a measurement can be a little tricky to understand because it measures the volume of your produce instead measuring it by the pound. In dry measurements, a bushel equals 8 gallons or 32 quarts of a commodity.

    When Peter Piper picked his peck of pickled peppers, he picked the equivalent of 1/4 of a bushel. While no one knows the origin of this word nor how it came to be a unit of measurement, we do know that Peter's peck of pickled peppers amounted to the equivalent of 2 gallons of dry weight, or 10 to 14 pounds.

    On a practical note, I think you have to pick the peppers before you pickle them, unless Peter's picking from a pickled pepper stall.


    Senior Member
    British English
    While no one knows the origin of this word
    The COED says "ORIGIN Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French pek"

    nor how it came to be a unit of measurement,
    A pretty daft statement - the same applies to inch, gallon, gram ... . That's like saying we don't know why a bump in the ground is called a "hill" - it's called that because it is.

    PS My comments apply to Copyright's source, not to Copyright. It's not reliable, since it also says that a barrel = 3 bushels (24 gallons), but a barrel (of beer) = 36 imperial gallons and of oil = 35 imperial/42 US gallons
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    Senior Member
    English - England
    while "pick a peck" does actually mean something straightforward, I've never heard it used in any other situation - I think the words were just chosen for alliteration purposes.
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