Peek vs. Pique vs. Peak

What is the difference?


Peek, pique and peak are a set of three homophones. They are pronounced the same, but are all spelled differently and have different meanings. The similarity in sound produces lots of problems for people. But these three words have different meanings and uses.

Peek vs. Pique vs. Peak

If we learn and practice these meanings and uses, we should be able to know how to use peek, pique and peak correctly.

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All Tenses


Peek

Peek is a noun and can be used as a verb, as well.

Peek is when you look at something very quickly. Often, you peek when you don't want someone to know you're looking. You peek when you're trying to be secretive, or keep something a secret.

Peek quickly

Examples:

  • Mom tells us not to peek at our Christmas presents.
    (Mom tells us not to sneak a look at our Christmas presents.)

    Christmas
  • We can't peek when we're playing hide and go seek because it's cheating.
    (We can't sneak a look when we're playing hide and go seek because it's cheating.)

    Hide and seek
  • Jake peeked from behind the chair.
    (Jake snuck a look from behind the chair.

    Cats behind chair

Peek, when it's used as a noun, is the look that you take when you're peeking. So, if a you peek (verb)you are taking a peek (noun).


Examples:

  • Mom lets me have a peek at my surprise.
    (Mom lets me have a quick look at my surprise.)

    Peek at a surprise
  • I want to take a peek at my birthday presents but I'll get in trouble.
    (I want to take a look at my birthday presents but I'll get in trouble.)

    Birthday presents
  • Noah had a peek in the safe and saw lots of money.
    (Noah had a look in the safe and saw lots of money.)

    Safe money


Peek Collocations

Collocations are commonly spoken phrases in English that occur naturally in speech. Becoming familiar with collocations will allow you to speak naturally with others and provide smooth dialogue in conversations.

  • Take/Have a peek

    Examples:

    - I'm going to have a peek at my birthday cake.
    - I took a peek in the house even though the doors were locked.

    Birthday cake

  • Peek in/out

    Examples:

    - I'm going to peek out on the children and see if they're behaving.
    - John's boss peeks in on his class to see what is happening.

    Children playing


Pique

Pique is used as a verb.

Pique can mean to make someone interested or curious in something.


Examples:

  • It piqued my curiosity.
    (It made me curious.)

    Curious
  • The movie piqued my interest in the issue.
    (The movie made me interested in the issue.)

    Piqued interest
  • There's nothing like a walk in the woods to pique my curiosity for life
    (There's nothing like a walk in the woods to make me curious about life.)

    A walk in the woods

Pique also refers to feeling irritated or angry.


Examples:

  • I was piqued after Lilly yelled at me.
    (I was angry after Lilly yelled at me.)


  • Harry was very rude to Susan and she left because she was piqued.
    (Harry was very rude to Susan and she left because she was irritated.)

    Irritated
  • Shawn is piqued with me and I am unable to talk to him.
    (Shawn is angry with me and I am unable to talk to him.)

    An angry man

Pique Collocations

  • Is/am/was piqued

    Examples:

    - Sloan is extremely piqued because her children won't listen.
    - I am piqued because Terry ignored me.

    Being ignored


Peak

Peak can be a noun, verb or an adjective.

When peak is a noun, it means the top of a mountain.


Examples:

  • We had reached the mountain peak before noon.
    (We had reached the highest point of the mountain before noon.)

    Mountain peak
  • Clyde climbed all four of the mountain peaks.
    (Clyde climbed all four of the mountain's tallest points.)

    Four mountains
  • Before I die, I want to climb to the peak of Mount Everest.
    (Before I die, I want to climb to the tallest point of Mount Everest.)

    Mountain climbing

When peak is a noun, it means the act of reaching a highest point. The point can be a physical point, like a mountain. It can also be a point in time. Or, it can refer to a level of anything that can change, such as support or a point in your career, etc.


Examples:

  • We finally peaked the mountain at 2 pm.
    (We finally reached the top of the mountain at 2 pm.)

    Mountains
  • Support for the church peaked in 1972.
    (The church had the most support in 1972.)

    The church
  • The price of oil has dropped drastically from when it peaked in 2010.
    (The price of oil has dropped drastically from when it was at its highest in 2010.)

    Oil prices

Peak as an adjective, means greatest, highest or the maximum. It is used to describe the point of something as being at its highest.


Examples:

  • Oil was at its peak price in 2010.
    (Oil was at its highest price in 2010.)

    Oil
  • Jarrod planned to be at his peak fitness by next summer.
    (Jarrod planned to be at his greatest level of fitness by next summer.)

    Peak fitness
  • Charlie's peak grades were in his last semester of school.
    (Charlie's best grades were in his last semester of school.)

    School grades

Peak Collocations

  • climb/conquer/scale a peak

    Examples:

    - I will climb to the peak of the mountain
    - They will conquer the mountain's peak.
    - We are going to scale the mountain peak.

    Climbing
  • all-time/summer/spring peak

    Examples:

    - The stocks have reached a new all-time peak.
    - Tourism has reached its summer peak.
    - Sales are at their winter peak.

    High stocks
  • peak hours/demand/performance  
             
    Examples:

    - Sales will reach new totals during peak hours.
    - During peak demand, our company will make our yearly wages.
    - Our company makes its most money during peak performance.

    Peak sales
  • At the/your/her peak

    Examples:

    - At her peak, she made large amounts of money.
    - At his peak, he was the most successful he'd ever been.
    - The company was now at its peak.

    Making money


More Tips

It can be hard to know when to use each of these words. Though they are spelled differently, they sound the same. Let's try out a couple tricks to help you remember.

Try to associate the word peak with a mountain peak by visualizing the a as a capital A that looks like a mountain! If you can remember that trick, you will always know that peak has to do with high points.

Here's another trick for the word peek. Think about the two e's in peek as two eyes that are looking at something!

And here's a little fun fact about the word pique. It's from the French word that means "prick." Sometimes it helps us remember words if we learn facts or stories about them.

If you can remember those three tricks, you should have no problem knowing when to use each of those words correctly.


A Story to Practice Peek vs. Pique vs. Peak

Sarah is a mischievous little girl. When her mischievousness is at its peak, Sarah often gets herself into trouble. Sarah's parents are often piqued with Sarah's behavior. When her curiosity peaks, she just can't seem to behave herself.

Sarah's birthday is tomorrow and she knows that her parents have hidden her presents from her so she can't peek at anything. But she catches a peek at a box in her mom's car. Her curiosity is piqued! She can't control herself when this happens.

Carefully and quietly, Sarah sneaks into the basement. She sees boxes and bags peeking out from underneath the jackets in the closet. Her excitement is at its peak! She runs towards the presents, but she slips and falls. She tugs on one of the jackets and all of them come down on top of her! Her crash makes a lot of noise.

Upstairs, Sarah's parents hear the crash and their curiosity is piqued. They walk downstairs to find Sarah peeking out from underneath the jackets and birthday presents. Though they are piqued, the sight is very funny. They laugh at Sarah as she tries her best to not peek at the presents now laying around her.

Sarah's parents know that she has learned her lesson. Bad things happen when you peek at things you're not supposed to!

Peeking at presents


Quiz

Fill in the blanks with the appropriate word. Each question is worth ten points.

1. My friends and I love hiking because nature is the most beautiful from a mountain ____________ (peek / pique / peak).

2. The ____________ (peek / pique / peak) in sales means that we are in high demand.

3. I snuck a ____________ (peek / pique / peak) behind the curtain while they were performing.

4. My mother yelled at my brother when he broke a glass because she was ____________ (peeked / piqued / peaked).

5. There are many ____________ (peeks / piques / peaks) we will have to climb in life.

6. We were ____________ (peeking / piqueing / peaking) at our Christmas presents when our grandparents walked in.

7. There's no way to tell if the kids ____________ (peeked / piqued / peaked) at the television yet.

8. Stanley saw the elephant and his curiosity was ____________ (peeked / piqued / peaked).

9. Jennifer was known to be the best salesperson during ____________ (peek / pique / peak) hours.

10. There was no way to know whether sales would ____________ (peek / pique / peak) or not.



Answer Key

1. peak | 2. peak | 3. peek | 4. piqued | 5. peaks | 6. peeking | 7. peeked | 8. piqued | 9. peak | 10.  peak


Get Vocabulary, Grammar and Teaching Tips, Site Updates and Special Offers Directly to Your Mailbox

Join now and get a special bonus:

First 2 chapters of the English Short Stories Book and Workbook.

Are you a teacher or a student?

* We respect your email privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.