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Peak, Peek, and Pique

Commonly Confused Words


As a noun, peak refers to a pointed end or the top of a hill or mountain. The verb peak means to reach a maximum, and the adjective peak means being at the maximum.

As both a noun and a verb, peek refers to a glance or brief look.

The noun pique refers to a sense of wounded pride. As a verb, pique means to excite, arouse, or irritate.


  • "One sees great things from the valley, only small things from the peak." (G. K. Chesterton)

  • A recession begins just after the economy reaches a peak of activity and ends as the economy reaches its trough.

  • Fans got a peek at Eminem's life in the movie 8 Mile.

  • She made the mistake of quitting her job in a fit of pique.

  • Teaser commercials are intended to pique the curiosity of viewers.


(a) The paparazzi, joined by dozens of tourists, were trying to get a ____ at the wedding guests.

(b) Government officials responded with a touch of _____, a dash of perplexity, and a pinch of barely controlled anger.

(c) "Some words tug at the heart, some _____ the mind, and others are simply euphonious." (Grant Barrett)

(d) _____ load is the single hour of highest electricity use in the course of the year.

(e) Fervent pilgrims climb to the _____ of the holy mountain on their knees.

Answers to Practice Exercises

Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words

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