The words peek, peak, and pique often get confused. It’s easy to see why. For one, they’re homonyms, which means they sound alike but have different meanings. They also all can be both nouns and verbs.
To help you remember the differences between peek, peak, and pique, let’s look at their definitions and some examples. Then you can test your understanding with a quiz at the end of the post.
peek (noun) means a glance
Example: One peek at the gift table and Virginia knew which one was from her grandma.
peek (verb) means 1) to glance at something; or 2) to look out through a hiding place (such as a crack).
Examples: Virginia peeked quickly at the papers on her rival’s desk.
I discovered Virginia peeking through the crack of the door.
peak (noun) means 1) the point at the top of a hill or mountain; or 2) the highest level
Examples: It took Virginia four days to climb to the peak of the mountain.
Virginia thought her vacation had reached its peak, but then she saw a mountain lion do the foxtrot.
peak (verb) means to reach a maximum (of capacity, value, or activity)
Example: Virginia felt her life peaked when she won her eighth-grade spelling bee.
pique (noun) means resentment, a wound of pride
Example: Virginia felt pique when her best friend got a better grade than her.
pique (verb) means to excite in interest or curiosity
Example: When Virginia’s friend brought up the subject of physics, her interest piqued.
Test your skills with this quiz. Fill in the blank with either peek, peak, or pique.
- Virginia reached the _______ of her high school career when she beat her math teacher at chess.
- Virginia had a _______ at the test before it was time to start.
- “Let me _______ your curiosity,” Virgnia said as she pulled a magic box from her purse.
- Virginia painted the _______ of the mountain for her art class.
- Virginia _______ed, in terms of accomplishments, when she won the first prize in debate class.
- Virginia’s _______ was in full force when she saw her friend take the stage after her.
- Virginia hid behind a big rock, and then she _______ed around it.
- From her _______ing, Virginia knew the secret her brother hid in his closet.
1. peak (noun) 2. peek (noun) 3. pique (verb) 4. peak (noun) 5. peak (verb) 6. pique (noun) 7. peek (verb) 8. peek (noun)