1

peak

noun \ ˈpēk \
Updated on: 19 May 2018

Definition of peak

1 : a pointed or projecting part of a garment; especially : the visor of a cap or hat
  • The cap's peak shades his eyes.
2 : promontory
  • a steep rocky peak
3 : a sharp or pointed end
  • the peak of a roof
4 a (1) : the top of a hill or mountain ending in a point
  • the fog hung … heavily on the peak of the hill
  • —H. D. Skidmore
(2) : a prominent mountain usually having a well-defined summit
b : something resembling a mountain peak
  • Beat the cream until it forms stiff peaks.
5 a : the upper aftermost corner of a fore-and-aft sail
b : the narrow part of a ship's bow or stern or the part of the hold in it
6 a : the highest level or greatest degree
  • a singer at the peak of her popularity
b : a high point in a course of development especially as represented on a graph
  • The graph shows that murders in the city reached a peak two years ago.

Examples of peak in a Sentence

  1. a line of rocky peaks

  2. the peak of the roof

  3. The recipe says to beat the cream until it forms soft peaks.

  4. At her peak she was writing a new novel every year.

  5. Violence reached a peak just before the election.

  6. The graph shows that murders in the city declined from a peak of 173 in 2004.

Recent Examples of peak from the Web

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

peek vs. peak vs. pique

Peek, peak, and pique: they sound the same but mean very different things.

The first one we learn is peek: it has to do with looking, especially furtively or quickly or through a small space, as in "open the box and peek inside." It's both a noun and a verb; when you peek, you take a peek. Our advice for remembering this one is to keep in mind that you peek in order to see.

Peak is the verb you use to talk about reaching a maximum, or coming to a highest point, literally or figuratively, as in "The meteor shower will last for several days but will peak on Sunday." Its noun counterpart, which refers to various pointed or projecting parts, is more common: something that peaks reaches a peak. Just as every mountain has a peak, thinking of the peak—the highest point—is the way to remember that peak is the choice for reaching the highest levels. Associating the "a" in peak with the "a" in maximum or with a capital "A" (the most mountain-like of letters) can be helpful.

Pique is the oddball of this trio. We know the "ique" spelling from the likes of technique, antique, and unique, but pique nonetheless looks a little exotic. It comes from a French word meaning literally "to prick," but its earliest English use was as a noun. The noun is still used: a pique is a transient feeling of wounded vanity—a kind of resentment. As a verb, pique was (and still is, especially in British English) used to mean "to arouse anger or resentment in," as in "Their rudeness piqued me." Now, however, it's most often our interest or curiosity that gets piqued—that is to say, our interest or curiosity is aroused, as in "The large key hanging next on the wall piqued my curiosity."

Pique has another meaning too, though it's less common than any of those already mentioned. Pique sometimes is used to mean "to take pride in (oneself)," as in "She piques herself on her editing skills."

Master this trio, and you can pique yourself on your word skills.

Origin and Etymology of peak

perhaps alteration of pike

Synonym Discussion of peak

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

2

peak

verb

Definition of peak

: to reach a maximum (as of capacity, value, or activity) often used with out
: to cause to come to a peak, point, or maximum

Recent Examples of peak from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of peak

see 1peak


3

peak

adjective

Definition of peak

: being at or reaching the maximum
  • peak levels
  • peak output
; also : of, relating to, or being a period of maximum intensity or activity
  • peak business hours

Examples of peak in a Sentence

  1. The factory has been running at peak capacity for the past year.

  2. the peak season for fishing

Recent Examples of peak from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of peak

see 1peak


4

peak

verb

Definition of peak

1 : to grow thin or sickly
2 : to dwindle away

Origin and Etymology of peak

origin unknown


5

peak

verb

Definition of peak

1 nautical : to set (a gaff, a yard, etc.) nearer the perpendicular
2 rowing : to hold (oars) with blades well raised

Origin and Etymology of peak

from apeak held vertically



PEAK Defined for English Language Learners

peak

Definition of peak for English Language Learners

  • : the pointed top of a mountain

  • : a tall mountain with a pointed or narrow top

  • : something that looks like a pointed top of a mountain


peak

Definition of peak for English Language Learners

  • : at the highest point or level

  • : filled with the most activity


PEAK Defined for Kids

peak

noun \ ˈpēk \

Definition of peak for Students

1 : a prominent mountain
  • We saw a snowy peak rising from the plain.
2 : the pointed top of a hill or mountain
  • I climbed all the way to the peak.
3 : a sharp or pointed end
  • The roof rises to a peak.
4 : the highest point of development
  • He is at the peak of his career.


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