Peek, peak, and pique

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, Peak, and Pique 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

Peek, Peak, and Pique


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, Peak, and Pique


  • Mom tells us not to peek at our Christmas presents. (Mom tells us not to sneak a look at our Christmas presents.) Peek, Peak, and Pique
  • 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.) Peek, Peak, and Pique
  • Jake peeked from behind the chair. (Jake snuck a look from behind the chair. Peek, Peak, and Pique

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).


  • Mom lets me have a peek at my surprise. (Mom lets me have a quick look at my 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.) Peek, Peak, and Pique
  • Noah had a peek in the safe and saw lots of money. (Noah had a look in the safe and saw lots of money.) Peek, Peak, and Pique

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. Peek, Peak, and Pique
  • 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. Peek, Peak, and Pique


Pique is used as a verb.

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


  • It piqued my curiosity. (It made me curious.)
  • The movie piqued my interest in the issue. (The movie made me interested in the issue.)

Peek Over the Peak with Piqued Interest

Peek, Peak, and Pique

The English language is tricky. Words can sound the same but have very different meanings. This makes mastering grammatical rules difficult.

One set of confusing words are peek, peak, and pique. All three words share the same pronunciation, pēk, but have unique definitions and usage.

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Peek in verb form is used without an object and means “to look quickly,” typically at something that is usually concealed.

  • Jaime peeked over the fence to see what her neighbor was doing.

Peek can also be a noun, meaning “a quick look”.

  • Unfortunately, a quick peek wasn't enough for Jaime to know what was happening next door.

The noun form of peak means “the pointed top of something,” usually a mountain or ridge.

  • After years of attempts, Marc finally reached the mountain's peak.

Peak also has a verb form that means “to attain the height of something,” usually popularity or activity.

  • Despite the new attention, Marc's climbing career peaked years ago.

When used as a verb without an object, pique means “to affect with sharp irritation and resentment” or “to excite.”

  • Aimee's interest was piqued when her partner delivered a beautiful box.

Pique can also be a noun, meaning “a feeling of irritation or resentment.”

  • After opening the box and not liking its contents, Aimee found herself in a pique.

Most grammar issues are solved by reading the sentence out loud. Our ears can tell when the word choice is incorrect. However, words that sound the same render this method useless.

“Pique over the peek with peaked interest” might sound correct out loud but it's a horrible misuse of all three words. Knowing the definitions of peek, peak, and pique is the only way to ensure their proper usage.

Peek vs. Peak vs. Pique – How to Use Each Correctly

Peek, Peak, and Pique

What’s the Difference Between Peek, Peak, and Pique?

Peek, peak, and pique are homophones, which means that they have the same pronunciation but different meanings.

Peek can be either a verb or a noun that means to look at something quickly or in a secretive manner.

  • The child tried to peek inside his Christmas presents before he was allowed to open them.

Peak can also be either a verb that means to reach the highest point or a noun that means the highest point.

  • It is very difficult to reach the peak of Mount Everest.

Pique can act as a noun that means a feeling of irritation caused by injured pride or a verb that means to irritate, wound, or excite.

Now that you know the differences between these three words, let’s look at them in context to ensure you don’t confuse them.

Using Peek in a Sentence

When to use peek: Peek can act as either a noun or a verb that refers to looking at something in a fast or furtive manner.

For example,

  • Close your eyes while I get your surprise ready. Don’t peek!
  • The burglar peeked through the windows to make sure no one was home before robbing the house.
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When peek acts as a verb, it often appears with a preposition in the phrases peek at, peek in, peek out, or peek over.

peak vs. peek vs. pique on

Let's look at three homophones: peak, peek, and pique. Peak is a topmost point, such as a mountain peak, or to reach that point:

We're sort of at peak demand right now.

A peek is a glance or a quick look, like you do with the unwrapped Christmas presents at the bottom of your loved one's closet. It can also mean to glance or to peer at. It's frequently paired with sneak, which can lead you to use the incorrect peak:

Residents take a peek at bike and pedestrian safety plans

Yellowstone Offers Sneak Peek Of New Visitor Center

Finally, pique is to upset or excite someone. You will sometimes see peek one's interest for pique one's interest, but don't be fooled. If you're piquing someone's interest, you are exciting their interest not taking a quick look at it:

If that doesn't pique your interest, you can leave (but I'm keeping your shoes).

Here's your mnemonic device:

  • You have to reach to gain the peak.
  • If you peer at something, you are peeking.
  • And if you're piqued about something, there's usually a question in your mind about it.

Use the word peak to refer to the pointy top of something, such as the jagged peak of a tall mountain or the tapered peak that forms when you beat egg whites for a recipe. Continue reading…

When you peek, you take a quick glance at something. It's incredibly tempting when you're little to peek at your birthday presents, but you soon learn how disappointing it is to spoil the surprise. Continue reading…

The verb pique means to make someone angry or annoyed. But when something piques your interest or curiosity, here the verb pique just means to arouse, stimulate, or excite. Continue reading…

Pique, Pick, Peek, and Peak

A reader asked on “Write Right: Complement versus Compliment” that I talk about pique, peek, and peak. I’m happy to comply. I’ve added “pick” both because of its similarity in sound to the other three words and because I need the word to make this post work. Thus is the life at Write Right. Words are added or subtracted because of need or creative direction.

“Pick” probably needs no explanation. One “picks” or “chooses” things. A bear, for instance, might pick a certain cave for his hibernation. He might pick a certain tree for scratching his claws. He might pick a certain part of the stream because he’s certain to catch a fine fish.

“Pique” actually has a number of definitions, mostly due to its ability to be used as either a noun or verb. As a noun, the word means “a transient feeling of wounded vanity” or “a fit of resentment.” It also can refer to a type of clothing fabric, but the word usually has an accent mark on the “e,” helping to demarcate the difference.

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The verb form of the word somewhat follows the noun’s definition; it can mean “to arouse anger or resentment.

” The more common use of the word lies in its second definition, which is “to excite or arouse by a provocation, rebuff, or challenge.

” A bear, in his quest to find a cave, might “pick” a mountain that “piques” his interest. The mountain excites him for some reason or another, so off he goes to explore it.

Peak vs. Peek vs. Pique

The three words peak, peek, and pique are homophones, words with the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or spelling. This may be the reason why some writers occasionally misuse or interchange these terms. This post will help you determine their differences and how to correctly use them in your writing.

The word peak can be used as a noun referring to “the pointed top of a mountain” or “a projecting pointed part or shape.”

  • 8 Mountain Peaks in Costa Rica Ideal for Hiking Trips
    The Costa Rica Star
  • Search teams combing Mt. Baldy for hiker, 78, who climbed peak more than 700 times
    Los Angeles Times
  • Canadian mountain ranges you can see without having to hike

It may also be used as a noun meaning “the point of highest activity, quality, or achievement.”

Gold hits 5-mth peak after Trump launches missile strike on Syria

Hong Kong Property Prices Are Near Their Peak: JPMorgan

Peak may also function as a verb which means “to reach a highest point, either of a specified value or at a specified time.”

FOREX-Yen hits multi-month peaks vs peers on rising geopolitical tensions

Queensland city of Rockhampton’s flood peaks at 8.75 metres
The Guardian

On the other hand, the term peek is usually used as a verb meaning “to look or glance quickly or furtively, especially through a small opening or from a concealed location.”

Sneak peek at the 2017 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards

NYPD Detective Peeked Through Windows With Flashlight, Exposed Himself to Teenage Girls: Police
NBC New York

Meanwhile, the word pique is generally used as a verb meaning “to stimulate interest or curiosity.”

  1. Broadway Interest Piqued As Former NY Times Drama Critic Charles Isherwood Heads To Web
  2. Kraft’s aborted bid for Unilever has piqued interest in the stock
    Proactive Investors UK
  3. People Piqued by Plans to Place LED Lights in Rome

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