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verb (used with object), piqued, piqu·ing.
  1. to affect with sharp irritation and resentment, especially by some wound to pride: She was greatly piqued when they refused her invitation.
  2. to wound (the pride, vanity, etc.).
  3. to excite (interest, curiosity, etc.): Her curiosity was piqued by the gossip.
  4. to arouse an emotion or provoke to action: to pique someone to answer a challenge.
  5. Archaic. to pride (oneself) (usually followed by on or upon).
verb (used without object), piqued, piqu·ing.
  1. to arouse pique in someone: an action that piqued when it was meant to soothe.
  1. a feeling of irritation or resentment, as from a wound to pride or self-esteem: to be in a pique.
  2. Obsolete. a state of irritated feeling between persons.

Origin of pique

1525–35; < Middle French pique (noun), piquer (v.) < Vulgar Latin *piccare to pick1; see pickax, pike2, piqué
Related formsun·piqued, adjective
Can be confusedpeak peek pique piqué

Synonyms for pique

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Antonyms for pique


noun Piquet.
  1. pic2.


[pi-key, pee-]
noun, adjective
  1. piqué.


[pi-key, pee-; French pee-key]
noun, plural pi·qués [pi-keyz, pee-; French pee-key] /pɪˈkeɪz, pi-; French piˈkeɪ/ for 2.
  1. a fabric of cotton, spun rayon, or silk, woven lengthwise with raised cords.
  2. Ballet. a step in which the dancer steps onto the tip of the toe without bending the knee.
  3. ornamentation by means of punched or stippled patterns, sometimes inlaid with metal, ivory, tortoise shell, etc.
  1. (of glove seams and gloves) stitched through lapping edges.
  2. decorated with inlay: a piqué box.
Also pique.

Origin of piqué

1830–40; < French, past participle of piquer to quilt, prick; see pique1
Can be confusedpeak peek pique piqué



or pique

noun Piquet.
  1. the scoring of 30 points in the declaration of hands and in the play before one's opponent scores a point.
  2. the bonus of 30 points won for so scoring.
Compare repic.

Origin of pic

< French: literally, prick
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pique

Contemporary Examples of pique

Historical Examples of pique

  • He was used to dealing with pique in women, and had found it the most manageable of weaknesses.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • Only, you oughtn't to pique a curiosity you don't mean to satisfy.'

    Wilfrid Cumbermede

    George MacDonald

  • Do they pique themselves upon their courage, their gallantry, and their adventure?


    William Godwin

  • When I quit her Majesty's service it will be neither for pique nor for love.

  • "Surely these gentlemen are scarcely so very anxious about me," said I, in some pique.

    That Boy Of Norcott's

    Charles James Lever

British Dictionary definitions for pique


  1. a feeling of resentment or irritation, as from having one's pride wounded
verb piques, piquing or piqued (tr)
  1. to cause to feel resentment or irritation
  2. to excite or arouse
  3. (foll by on or upon) to pride or congratulate (oneself)

Word Origin for pique

C16: from French, from piquer to prick, sting; see pick 1


  1. a score of 30 points made by a player from a combination of cards held before play begins and from play while his opponent's score is nil
  1. to score a pique (against)

Word Origin for pique

C17: from French pic, of uncertain origin


noun plural pics or pix
  1. informal a photograph, picture, or illustration

Word Origin for pic

C20: shortened from picture


  1. a close-textured fabric of cotton, silk, or spun rayon woven with lengthwise ribs

Word Origin for piqué

C19: from French piqué pricked, from piquer to prick
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

Word Origin and History for pique

1530s, "fit of ill feeling," from Middle French pique "a prick, sting, irritation," noun of action from piquer (see pike (n.2)).


"to excite to anger," 1670s, from French piquer "to prick, sting" (see pike (n.2)). Softened meaning "to stimulate, excite" is from 1690s. Related: Piqued; piquing.



1884 as a shortening of picture (n.). Short for motion picture from 1936. Colloquial piccy is recorded from 1889.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper