Peak vs. Peek (vs. Pique) - Grammar Rules - Writer's Digest

Peak vs. Peek (vs. Pique) - Grammar Rules

Knowing the difference between peek and peak piqued my interest. Here are the differences explained in a simple, easy-to-understand way.
Publish date:

Q: For some reason I confuse "peak" and "peek" all the time. Is there a simple way to help differentiate the two so I can get it correct in the future? –Brian K.


A: OK, so I'm not sure if you noticed but I submitted this question myself. All writers have some kind of Achilles' Heel, and confusing "peak" and "peek" is mine. Whether I'm writing a column, newsletter or tweet, I undoubtedly will choose the wrong word. It's very embarrassing—almost as embarrassing as accidentally transposing letters in my name and signing e-mails "Brain."

And it takes a certain talent to misspell your own name.

To get these words right, I first grabbed my handy dictionary to define the terms. "Peak" (with an A) has several meanings depending on its form. The most common uses include peak as a noun, which means "a high point," and as a verb, which means "to reach a high point." We climbed to the peak of the mountain. Ken Griffey, Jr.'s baseball skills peaked in the late '90s.

[Want more? Click here for additional Grammar Rules.]

"Peek" (with a double E) means to take a brief look or catch a glimpse. I peeked at my ex-girlfriend's Facebook page to see if she was married. If you peek in my cube you may notice that I'm not wearing pants.

While I understand the difference between the words, I've been looking for a mnemonic device to keep them straight for quite some time. Our intern, Jennifer Benner, provided one that not only solved this problem for me but is also easy to remember: The peak of a mountain is shaped like an A. But to peek you need your eyes, which has two Es.

And finally, if you confuse "pique" with the other two, remember that it's a French word meaning "to stimulate." My interest was piqued—is he really not wearing pants at work?

Want other Grammar Rules? Check out:
Sneaked vs. Snuck
Who vs. Whom
Lay vs. Lie vs. Laid 
Which vs. That
Since vs. Because
Ensure vs. Insure
Home in vs. Hone in
Leaped vs. Leapt

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

Thanks for visiting The Writer's Dig blog. For more great writing advice, click here.


Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog (The Writer's Dig), the online editor of Writer's Digest and author of the popular gift bookOh Boy, You're Having a Girl: A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Sign up for Brian's free Writer's Digest eNewsletter: WD Newsletter