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.

Examples

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]

5 thoughts on “Peak vs. peek vs. pique”

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

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  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.

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    • 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

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