Peak, Peek, and Pique

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
What is the difference between peak, peek, and pique?
  • A peak is the highest point of something.
  • A peek is a quick look.
  • To pique means to arouse interest or curiosity.


The noun peak is the maximum point, degree, or volume of something. (The word peak can also be used as a verb.)

  • I grew up climbing mountains in Montana. My wife and I were engaged on top of a mountain peak.
  • It's been a career filled with very low valleys and some wonderful high peaks. (Pat Morita)
  • I hate to sound self-involved, but I feel like I haven't peaked yet. (Q Tip)
  • (This is an example of peak being used as a verb.)


The noun peek denotes a quick look or glance. (The word peek can also be used as a verb.)

  • It's fun to peek into other people's worlds and see how they go about doing things. (Norah Jones)
  • I don't think it's a director's job to peek behind the curtain too much. (Paul Thomas Anderson)
  • (This is an example of peek being used as a verb.)
  • We may train or peek for a certain race, but running is a lifetime sport. (Alberto Salazar)
  • (This should be peak.)


The noun pique denotes a feeling of irritation or displeasure. It can also be used as a verb meaning to irk or displease. Pique can also mean to arouse or provoke interest.

Examples of pique meaning irritation or displeasure:
  • If someone starts agreeing with me, I don't like it. Out of pique, I become something else. (Alexei Sayle)
  • In a fit of pique, I said to my agent, "I'm going to write something you can sell."
  • It piqued me.
Example of pique meaning to arouse or provoke interest:
  • A great way to pique people's interest in nutrition is to involve them more in the cooking process.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose?
What are nouns? What are verbs? List of easily confused words