Peak vs. peek vs. pique

  • A peak is (1) a maximum, (2) to achieve a maximum, and (3) to bring to a maximum.


    Its homophone pique, which appears mostly in the phrase pique [one’s] interest, means (1) to provoke or arouse, or (2) to provoke resentment or indignation. It also works as a noun referring to a feeling of resentment or indignation resulting from wounded pride.

    A third homophone, peek, means (1) to glance quickly, (2) to look furtively, or (3) a quick or furtive look.



    It peaked with Della famously being photographed dancing to I Will Survive in a skin-tight red dress. [Daily Mail]

    The unexpected availability of an experienced playmaker as soon as next month is sure to pique the interest of NRL clubs. [Sydney Morning Herald]

    Like a sneak peek into old age, I grunt when I bend and climb stairs in slow motion. [Globe and Mail]


    1. Interesting that the proper usage was found in non-American sources while the improper usage was in American newspapers.

      • Grammarist says

        Probably just a coincidence. We’ll check for other examples in our next revision.

    2. Can’t I say,”Peaks my interest” it I mean it is the highest interest to me? I mean to convey that this is something I am most interested in not just aroused by (Yes, I can end a sentence in a preposition). I want to make it clear that this is the most arousing thing. It brings me to the peak of excitement.

      • grammar girl says

        No my dear Robert,
        You cannot say that it “peaks my interest”. However, you can say that it is the peak of your interests. Now please do us all a favor and go educate yourself.

        xoxo Grammar girl

        • Dillon Blanchard says

          You have issues lady, he was just asking a question. No need to get your knickers in a twist.

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