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Origin of peak

1
First recorded in 1520–30; perhaps from Middle Low German pēk “pick, pike”

OTHER WORDS FROM peak

peak·less, adjectivepeak·like, adjective

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH peak

peak , peek, pique, piqué

Other definitions for peak (2 of 2)

peak2
[ peek ]
/ pik /

verb (used without object)
to become weak, thin, and sickly.

Origin of peak

2
First recorded in 1500–10; origin uncertain

OTHER WORDS FROM peak

peakish, adjectivepeak·ish·ly, adverbpeak·ish·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

PEAK VS. PEEK VS. PIQUE

What's the difference between peakpeek, and pique?

The word peak refers to the top of a mountain or, more figuratively, to the highest point of something, as in the peak of my career. The word peek is most commonly used as a verb meaning to look at something quickly or sneakily and as a noun referring to such a look. The less frequently used word pique is most commonly used as a verb meaning to arouse or excite a particular feeling, as in Advertisements are designed to pique your interest.

The confusion surrounding the three words—all three of which can be used as both a verb and a noun—is mainly due to the fact that they are all pronounced the same.

Since peak and peek are so close in spelling, one way to tell them apart is to remember that peek has two e’s, which kind of look like two little eyes peeking out between the p and the k. Another way to remember this is that peek has two e’s like look has two o’s.

To remember what pique means (and how to spell it), remember that the things that pique your interest or curiosity are often unique.

Here’s an example of peak, peek, and pique used correctly in a sentence.

Example: The image of the strange mountain peak on the cover was meant to pique your curiosity, and it worked—you picked up the magazine to peek inside.

Want to learn more? Read the breakdown of the difference between peaked, peeked, and piqued.

Quiz yourself on peak vs. peek vs. pique!

Should peak, peek, or pique be used in the following sentence?

I can’t stay for long—I just want to take a quick _____ inside.

How to use peak in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for peak

peak
/ (piːk) /

noun
verb
(tr) nautical to set (a gaff) or tilt (oars) vertically
to form or reach or cause to form or reach a peak or maximum
adjective
of or relating to a period of highest use or demand, as for watching television, commuting, etcpeak viewing hours; peak time

Derived forms of peak

peaky or peakish, adjective

Word Origin for peak

C16: perhaps from pike ², influenced by beak 1; compare Spanish pico, French pic, Middle Low German pēk
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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