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

Antonyms for pique

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for piquing

Historical Examples of piquing

British Dictionary definitions for piquing


  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


  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 piquing



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper