Peek vs. Peak vs. Pique: Quick Comparison of Their Differences

When faced with choosing from the words peek, peak and pique, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Learn the meaning of each term so you'll be clear on how to interpret texts that include these terms and be able to choose the correct word to use in your own writing.

images of cats demonstrating peek versus peak versus pique images of cats demonstrating peek versus peak versus pique
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Peek vs. Peak vs. Pique: The Difference in Definitions

Peek, peak and pique are homophones, words that sound the same (pēk) but have different spellings and meanings. In order to distinguish between them, it’s important to memorize their definitions.

  • peek - to look quickly

  • peak - the top of a mountain; a high point of something

  • pique - a feeling of irritation or resentment; interest or curiosity

Meanings and Usage of Peek

The word peek can be a noun or a verb. Both forms involve looking at something.

How to Use Peek as a Verb

The verb peek means the action of looking at something quickly, either in a furtive way or simply to briefly skim something.

  • Peek in the window to see if any of the store employees have arrived yet.
  • The next time the doorbell rings, peek through the curtain to see who is here.
  • I saw the answer key sitting on her desk, but I didn't peek at the answers.

How to Use Peek as a Noun

The noun form of the word peek refers to a brief look or glance, separate from the action of looking.

  • I took a peek at the last chapter before I started reading, so I already know how the book ends.
  • I am looking forward to taking a peek at your ideas for redecorating the living room.
  • It was so much fun to get a sneak peek of the play by attending the dress rehearsal.

Meanings and Usage of Peak

The word peak can be a noun, adjective or verb. With each part of speech, the meaning is "the top or pinnacle." The meaning depends on whether the word is used for an action or to describe an object.

Using Peak as a Verb

Used as a verb, the word peak refers to the action of moving toward or reaching the highest possible state or maximum value.

  • I believe that the value of this stock will peak at $3,000 per share.
  • She will continue to add layers to the cake until it peaks at five levels.
  • He is seeking to peak out the promotion by setting a new all-time sales record.
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Using Peak as a Noun

Used as a noun, the word peak refers to the top or highest point of something, literally or figuratively.

  • Many mountain climbers dream of reaching the peak of Mount Everest.
  • If I am recognized as employee of the year, I will feel like I have reached the peak of my career.
  • There is a yarn ball attached to the peak of my ski cap.

Using Peak as an Adjective

When used as an adjective, the word peak describes a noun as having reached its maximum state.

  • The airplane climbed to peak altitude before leveling off.
  • Building a strong leadership team is critical for an organization that wants to reach peak performance.
  • During peak hours, people who drive or deliver food via ride-sharing services can earn good money.

Pique Meanings and Usage

The word pique can be a noun or a verb. There are a few different meanings within each usage.

Using Pique as a Verb in a Sentence

When used as a verb, pique can refer to arousing or stimulating interest or curiosity. It can also mean to arouse or provoke anger or resentment.

  • I'm hoping to pique your interest in joining a new special project team.
  • Can I pique your interest in going on a spa retreat with me?
  • If you suggest she is not being truthful, it will likely pique an angry response.

Using Pique as a Noun in a Sentence

When used as a noun, the word pique refers to a feeling of irritation, resentment or of having one's pride wounded via an insult or slight. When written as piqué ( pronounced pē-kā), this word refers to a ribbed fabric.

  • He experiences pique whenever he doesn't get his way.
  • Bob had a temper tantrum and stormed out in a fit of pique.
  • Grandma gave me a lovely piqué sweater for Christmas.
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Remember the Difference: Peek vs. Peak vs. Pique (vs. Piqué)

Reviewing definitions and example sentences is a great way to learn key differences between peek, peak, pique, and piqué. It can also be helpful to discover some simple memory tips and tricks that can help you quickly recall what each word means.

  • peek - Peek has two "e"s. Remember that peeking is done with the eyes. People have two eyes and peek has two "e"s.
  • peak - Peak has an "a" in it. The word peak refers to the top or maximum, which is a type of accomplishment. The word accomplishment starts with "a" and peak has an "a."
  • pique - Pique and provoke both start with "p" and end with "e." Pique can be the result of provoking, so associating the first and last letters of both words can help you remember which term to use.
  • piqué - Since this term applies to fabric, associate the accent mark with fashion. Think about the accent mark as being a bit of flair that adds emphasis to the word, which is exactly what fashion can do to your style.

Pique Readers' Interest

Now that you know how these words differ from each other, discover other commonly confused words. Start by exploring more examples of homophones. Then, review some examples of homographs. The more you learn, the stronger your vocabulary, language arts and writing skills will be!