Why Peterman? The Chambers Dictionary states that it is slang for a safe-blower and that peter can mean a safe or a prison cell. Others suggest that it is of Scottish origin in which case it could relate to Peterhead Prison which housed many safe-breakers. Again others say it is just a safe-breaker. Could it perhaps be associated with the Old French péter meaning to crack or explode? It could even be derived from saltpetre, a component of gunpowder.