Haven’t done a Why Write Wrong post in some time and would like to get back on track with them, so I’m taking a moment tonight to talk about three words that I see misused fairly often, especially the third: Peek, peak, and pique. These words are not interchangeable, though in the last week, I have seen all three misused in a series I’ve been reading, and more than once, at that. Let’s take a look at them.
Though all three are pronounced exactly the same way, they are very different in meaning, to wit:
Peek is to take a quick look at something, perhaps in a sneaky manner. He peeked at the answers to his homework assignment. If what you want to say deals with the way your character is looking at something, you want PEEK.
Peak is usually used to reference the summit or highest point of something. The peak of the mountain was covered with snow. Or perhaps: The whipped cream was mounded on the top of the pie in fluffy peaks. It could also work for a summit a bit less tangible, like: The child actor’s popularity peaked when she was a mere eight years of age.
Pique is definitely the one misused most often. Pique is a state of irritation or resentment. It can also be used to indicate the rousing of curiosity. Her spiteful tone left him in a fit of pique. Or: His curiosity was piqued by the mysterious letter. So this one deals with emotions, and has nothing to do with peeking through a crack in the door, or climbing to the peak of the jungle gym.
Now, have I piqued your curiosity enough to wonder if your blinds are pulled, so no one can peek in your windows and discover you’re the annoying neighbor playing your stereo at peak volume? (Oh, even I’M groaning that one!) But you get my drift. And I hope this helps clear up any confusion about these three words.
Signing off now. As you were, folks! 😀