pin·​na·​cle | \ ˈpi-ni-kəl How to pronounce pinnacle (audio) \

Definition of pinnacle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an upright architectural member generally ending in a small spire and used especially in Gothic construction to give weight especially to a buttress
2 : a structure or formation suggesting a pinnacle specifically : a lofty peak
3 : the highest point of development or achievement : acme


pinnacled; pinnacling\ ˈpi-​ni-​k(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce pinnacle (audio) \

Definition of pinnacle (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to surmount with a pinnacle
2 : to raise or rear on a pinnacle

Illustration of pinnacle

Illustration of pinnacle


P pinnacle 1

In the meaning defined above

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Choose the Right Synonym for pinnacle


summit, peak, pinnacle, climax, apex, acme, culmination mean the highest point attained or attainable. summit implies the topmost level attainable. at the summit of the Victorian social scene peak suggests the highest among other high points. an artist working at the peak of her powers pinnacle suggests a dizzying and often insecure height. the pinnacle of worldly success climax implies the highest point in an ascending series. the war was the climax to a series of hostile actions apex implies the point where all ascending lines converge. the apex of Dutch culture acme implies a level of quality representing the perfection of a thing. a statue that was once deemed the acme of beauty culmination suggests the outcome of a growth or development representing an attained objective. the culmination of years of effort

Did You Know?


Pinnacle is one of several words that aspire to both literal and figurative heights. Others include summit, peak, climax, apex, acme, and culmination. All of these can refer to the highest point of a mountain or structure, or the highest point attained or attainable over a person's lifetime, career, etc. When referring to part of a building, pinnacle describes a projection on top of a tower (as on a Gothic cathedral). The word derives via Anglo-French from Late Latin pinnaculum, meaning "small wing," a diminutive of pinna, meaning "wing or battlement." When used figuratively, pinnacle sometimes implies a dizzying and insecure height, such as that brought on by unexpected fame.

Examples of pinnacle in a Sentence

Noun a singer who has reached the pinnacle of success
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Harold Geneen was, at the pinnacle of his career, president and CEO of International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation (ITT) from 1959 to 1977. Eli Amdur, Forbes, "“Leadership Cannot Be Taught…”," 15 Apr. 2021 Friends generally fall into tiers, like those old food-pyramid posters in the school cafeteria, except in this case, the tiny triangle at the pinnacle is where the good stuff is, your best friends who provide the most nourishment. New York Times, "We Want Our Friends Back! (But Which Ones?)," 27 Mar. 2021 Being in a museum collection is a pinnacle for any artist., "He was an MVP basketball player. Now his star is rising as an art quilter," 15 Apr. 2021 But these Columbia records preserve Szigeti’s art at a pinnacle, following his celebrated recordings in London and Paris for EMI but before his technique waned. David Mermelstein, WSJ, "‘Joseph Szigeti: The Complete Columbia Album Collection’ Review: A Violinist’s Head and Heart in Equal Measure," 5 Apr. 2021 March Madness is the pinnacle of college basketball, where 64 teams -- full of the next generation of WNBA and NBA players -- duke it out in a single-elimination tournament over two weeks to crown the best team. Matias Grez And Jill Martin, CNN, "Two Black women will be head coaches in the same NCAA women's Final Four for the first time," 31 Mar. 2021 This 4,000-acre park located in Central Maui is home to one of the island’s great landmarks, the 1,200-foot Iao Needle, a pinnacle covered in lush green, named for Iao, daughter of Maui. Patricia Doherty, Travel + Leisure, "Maui Travel Guide," 2 Mar. 2021 Bungie has patched glitches like Presage not giving a pinnacle and the rocket HELM upgrade not working. Paul Tassi, Forbes, "Destiny 2 Reset Update: Assassination Plot, Crown Of Sorrow And Calus’ Communion," 2 Mar. 2021 In the United States, where 'age moms' and 'wine moms' were credited with influencing the results of the presidential election, having children is held up as the pinnacle of female achievement. Claire Zillman, Fortune, "Women are angry about the impact of the pandemic. Could their rage change politics?," 11 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb One father, two sons, all coaching their teams to pinnacle moments of their seasons. Matt Goul, cleveland, "A first for father and son: Cameron Joyce leads St. Ignatius, while dad Dru Joyce II has St. Vincent-St. Mary in state semifinals at the same time," 19 Mar. 2021 At the start of 2015, Hollar's weight pinnacled at 678. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "Surgery helped him lose almost 500 pounds. Now insurance won't help remove excess skin.," 4 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pinnacle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of pinnacle


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pinnacle


Middle English pinacle, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin pinnaculum small wing, gable, from Latin pinna wing, battlement

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Time Traveler for pinnacle

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The first known use of pinnacle was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pinnacle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for pinnacle



English Language Learners Definition of pinnacle

: a high mountain top
: the best or most important part of something : the point of greatest success or achievement
: a tower on the roof of a building that comes to a narrow point at the top


pin·​na·​cle | \ ˈpi-nə-kəl How to pronounce pinnacle (audio) \

Kids Definition of pinnacle

1 : the peak of a mountain
2 : the highest point of development or achievement Winning the award was the pinnacle of her career.
3 : a slender tower generally coming to a narrow point at the top

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