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Peek vs. Peak or Pique: What’s the Difference?

It’s always exciting to be able to present you with an English lesson which matches perfectly with art opportunities, so get psyched to learn the difference between peek vs. peak or pique… illustrated by cartoons that show you the secret hidden in the letters of these homophones!

As background, my name is Lillie, and I’m an ELA teacher and artist who delights in drawing cute drawings to help you remember such challenges as “Lier or Liar?” All art here is hand-created. Ready to PEEK at the lesson? Let’s go…

Peek vs. Peak or Pique
Peek vs. Peak or Pique?

“Peek” Definition and Example

The word “peek” can be a verb or a noun. As a verb, the definition of “peek” is: To look at or poke out quickly or furtively. As a noun, “peek” means: a rapid or sneaky glance.

For example: When I saw a snake’s head peek (verb) out from behind the door, I gave a sneak peek (noun) down at my shoes to make sure they were tied in case I had to sprint away in terror.

The way to remember the meaning of “peek” is illustrated above: the EE letters at the center of the word look like two eyes staring out, reminding you that it’s about quick looks.

Peak Peek Pique Difference example sentence
Peek, peak, and pique in an example sentence!

“Peak” Meaning and Sentences

The word “peak” can be a noun, adjective, or verb. As a noun, “peak” means: a mountain shape (like the perfect triangle of the Matterhorn). For example: The whipped cream formed a delicious peak at the top of my ice cream sundae.

As an adjective, “peak” means: the highest or best moment. For example: I achieved peak geekiness the day I wore my fanny pack with knee-high compression socks. (Lillie’s note: This is a true story.)

As a verb, “to peak” means: to reach the highest point or apex. For example: My hunger peaks at 3pm, when I return from a long day of teaching and eat all the snacks in my fridge. (Also a true story.)

The trick to remember the definition of “peak” is illustrated in the first drawing of this article: the “A” in the middle of the word looks like a mountain shape, which is the base for all three forms of the word, since they’re all about a high point!

“Pique” Definition and Examples

Warning: While “peek” and “peak” are extremely common words, “pique” (pronounced exactly the same as the other two homophones) is rarely used because it is lesser-known and frankly… somewhat awkward. Proceed with caution.

“Pique” can be a verb or noun. As a verb it means: to elicit interest or irritation. It’s most often used in the phrase, “pique interest,” which means causing curiosity. For example: Your tattoo piques my interest. What does it mean?

As a noun, the definition of “pique” is: somewhat irrational irritation. This form of the word is most often used in the phrase “a fit of pique,” meaning a huff. For example: She smashed the dish to the ground in a fit of pique after learning that she earned an “A” instead of an “A+” on the most recent essay.

To remember the meaning of “pique,” notice how unique and curiously strange the “Q” in the middle of the word is, and let that get you intrigued or annoyed!

Peek vs. Peak or Pique: VIDEO

Sneak Peek vs. Sneak Peak

Now it’s time for a pop quiz! Which is correct: “sneak peek” or “sneak peak?” Yes, you’ve got it: “sneak peek” is correct because it’s talking about a quick or sneaky LOOK at something. It would not make sense for a mountain shape to be sneaky… although that might make a funny future cartoon.

Peek vs. Peak or Pique in Sum

Hopefully these drawings, definitions, and examples help you remember the difference between peek vs. peak… and also reveal that there’s a strange third homophone in the set called “pique” which is rarely used. (Oh, and there’s also apparently a golf ski resort in Upstate New York called Peek’n Peak… but that won’t be showing up on English tests any time soon.)

If you enjoyed this article, check out this list of other commonly confused words, and feel free to leave a comment with YOUR experiences of peek, peak, and pique — or a request for my next article!