A Peek at Being Piqued

Today I’m giving you a peek into another set of confusables: peek, peak, and pique.

Yes—pique. Curious? You should be. That’s what the verb form of pique means: to excite or arouse interest or anger especially by a challenge or rebuff. Or to irritate, aggravate, or to rouse resentment.

  • Jennifer’s curiosity was piqued when Allison hinted that she had a big announcement to make.

Pique can also be used as a noun—an offense or a transient feeling of wounded vanity.

  • In a fit of pique, Eleanor stomped to her room and slammed the door.

It seems as if quite a few people know the meaning but not the correct spelling of the word. I often see piqued written as peeked or peaked—both of which have only one meaning:

  • Peek: a brief look, glance, glimpse
  • Peak: top, apex, or summit. Mountains have peaks, so do careers and performances.

So you would write: When the hikers reached the peak of Mt. Baldy, they peeked over the top to a broad valley below.

If you’re a writer, it’s best to learn your peeks and peaks so you don’t pique your editor.

One Response to “A Peek at Being Piqued”

  1. Susannah MacDonald July 4, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

    I really like these word distinction posts. This is a good one as I’ve seen this mistake as well.

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