\ ˈpēk How to pronounce peak (audio) \

Definition of peak

 (Entry 1 of 5)

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
4a(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.
5a : 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
6a : 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.


verb (1)
peaked; peaking; peaks

Definition of peak (Entry 2 of 5)

intransitive verb

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

transitive verb

: to cause to come to a peak, point, or maximum



Definition of peak (Entry 3 of 5)

1 : being at or reaching the maximum peak levels peak output peak performance operating at peak strength/efficiency Wang thinks that groundwater was jolted free by the quake. The water then trickled down into the streams and reached a peak outpour about 30 days later.— Thomas Sumner Air-conditioning is also one of the main contributors to peak electric power demand …— Shane Cashman also : of, relating to, or being a period of maximum intensity or activity And because women, as a whole, leave later for work than men, they tend to travel right smack-dab in the peak hours of congestion (and even more so in the afternoon peak hours, which is partially why those tend to be worse.) — Tom Vanderbilt
2 : being at the height of popularity, use, or attention used before the name of a product, person, cultural trend, etc. Just when you think we've surely reached peak bourbon, someone else ups the ante. No longer is it enough to have the oldest, the rarest, or the most expensive whiskey, or even to pick a personal barrel from a distillery.— Dana McMahanAll this is to say, we are at peak Wes Anderson—or rather, we have been for a very, very long time. We have to ask: why is this style so easy to send up? And why is it so hard to dislodge?— Louis Wise


verb (2)
peaked; peaking; peaks

Definition of peak (Entry 4 of 5)

intransitive verb

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


verb (3)
peaked; peaking; peaks

Definition of peak (Entry 5 of 5)

transitive verb

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

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Synonyms for peak

Synonyms: Noun

alp, hump, mount, mountain

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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.

Examples of peak in a Sentence


a line of rocky peaks the peak of the roof The recipe says to beat the cream until it forms soft peaks. At her peak she was writing a new novel every year. Violence reached a peak just before the election. The graph shows that murders in the city declined from a peak of 173 in 2004.


The factory has been running at peak capacity for the past year. the peak season for fishing
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

When record-breaking wildfires tore through town and its surrounding peaks in November 2016, the damage was deep, the loss felt widely by locals and visitors alike., "Take a luxury camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains," 9 July 2019 Eagle Cap Wilderness has 535 miles of trails and 17 peaks taller than 9,000 feet. Dina Mishev, Dallas News, "This lodge in the Oregon wilderness is anything but wild," 8 July 2019 The numbers are stark: At the market’s peak in 2017, the farmers were selling their opium resin for as much as $590 per pound. Kirk Semple, New York Times, "Mexican Opium Prices Plummet, Driving Poppy Farmers to Migrate," 7 July 2019 Greece was the first country that experienced the peak of populism. Michael Birnbaum, Washington Post, "Greek elections are expected to bring a populist experiment to an end," 6 July 2019 The sun shimmers in the windows of beachside apartments and creates a changing canvas of colours behind the peak of Sugarloaf Mountain. Sarah Esther Maslin, 1843, "Rio is a riot in the early hours," 4 July 2019 Meanwhile, the number of people receiving federal food stamps tops 39 million, below the peak in 2013 but still up 40 percent from 2008 even though the country's population has only grown about 8 percent. NBC News, "We're in the longest economic expansion ever — but it's the rich who are getting richer," 2 July 2019 After a day of hiking, stay the night at Wonder Lake Campground for commanding views of Denali itself, at 20,310 feet North America’s tallest peak. Kitson Jazynka, National Geographic, "Wolves are making a comeback. Here’s where to see them," 2 July 2019 Unsurprisingly, the Beyhive is living for this peak into Bey's unfiltered life Tina exposed us to. Maya Allen, Marie Claire, "This Video of Beyoncé's Hair Getting Trimmed by Tina Knowles WIll Make Your Day," 28 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The North and South Rivers Watershed Association said the run at Herring Brook began with the first sighting April 1, peaked on April 14 — when 465 fish were counted in 10 minutes — and ended May 6. Johanna Seltz,, "Volunteers count most river herring ever recorded at Herring Brook," 10 July 2019 With summer ramping up, consumers can expect more robocalls, especially in August when robocalls peak, according to technological research company Comparitech. Madeline Purdue, USA TODAY, "This is where robocalls are coming from (and where they are targeting)," 9 July 2019 But the notable growth has been at Magnolia, which started about 10 years ago and peaked at about 510 students this year — at least 40 of them from the Curtiss attendance area. Howard Blume,, "A tug-of-war over empty classrooms between a charter school and its host campus," 9 July 2019 The wait list’s length peaked toward the beginning of December at a little over 5,200 people as members of a migrant caravan that drew the ire of President Donald Trump made their way from their shelter in Tijuana’s Zona Norte to sign up. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Tijuana asylum line reaches highest count on record as migrants protest long waits," 9 July 2019 The Telemundo telecast averaged 1.3 million and peaked at 2 million as the match concluded., "Women’s World Cup soccer champions arrive home ahead of parade," 8 July 2019 The human retina has a lot of complicated wiring, but just three kinds of receptors for light, each peaking at different wavelengths of the visible spectrum—long, medium, and short. Adam Rogers, WIRED, "Why We See the Colors of Faces Differently Than Other Things," 8 July 2019 Whale meat was an affordable source of protein during the lean times after World War II, with annual consumption peaking at 223,000 tons in 1962, but whale was quickly replaced by other meats. Washington Post, "Whale meat fetches ‘celebration prices’ after Japanese hunt," 5 July 2019 Titan coach has sent eight players to major leagues Bob Parry’s baseball career peaked at the Single-A level of the minor leagues. Pomerado News, "Bob Parry respected for teaching ‘the Poway way’," 3 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Summer is peak mango season in Florida, and there definitely hasn’t been a shortage of them this year. Catie Wegman,, "After the fireworks: cool down at these 5 South Florida events," 5 July 2019 There’s a reason the Song of the Summer is a thing: This is peak earworm season. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "Sound On: The Best Albums of June 2019," 1 July 2019 The outage occurred during peak commuter time, at 9.40 a.m, forcing the company to cancel a total of 26 trains. Ben Westcott, CNN, "Small slug throws Japan's high-speed rail into chaos," 24 June 2019 In fact, people travel to the Great Smoky Mountains during peak firefly season (from late May to mid-June) just to catch a glimpse of the park’s famous synchronous lightening bugs in action. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "How to Attract Fireflies to Your Yard," 10 June 2019 Breckenridge: Visitors can save almost half off lodging in the summer at Breckenridge, about 85 miles southwest of Denver, compared with peak ski season rates (November to April), according to Breckenridge Tourism. Terry Gardner,, "4 cheap trips in the U.S. to take this summer," 24 June 2019 This is all good news for the local sportfishing fleet that sees peak action from now through August. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Bluefin catch a San Diego record for full-day boat," 13 June 2019 Some 27,000 utility customers in Butte, Yuba, Nevada, El Dorado and Placer counties may have their power shut off beginning at 9 p.m. Saturday; peak fire risk there extends until 10 a.m. Sunday. Steve Rubenstein,, "PG&E shuts down power in some North Bay areas amid red-flag fire warnings," 8 June 2019 But despite the differences in the suits, the group was peak cohesive in their styling of the looks. Gianluca Russo, Teen Vogue, "BTS Wore Matching Alexander McQueen Tuxedos on the Billboard Music Awards Red Carpet," 1 May 2019

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.

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First Known Use of peak


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Verb (1)

1887, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


1903, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (3)

1626, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for peak

Noun, Verb (1), and Adjective

perhaps alteration of pike

Verb (2)

origin unknown

Verb (3)

from apeak held vertically

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More Definitions for peak



English Language Learners Definition of peak

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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



English Language Learners Definition of peak (Entry 2 of 2)

: at the highest point or level
: filled with the most activity


\ ˈpēk How to pronounce peak (audio) \

Kids Definition of peak

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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More from Merriam-Webster on peak

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with peak

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for peak

Spanish Central: Translation of peak

Nglish: Translation of peak for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of peak for Arabic Speakers

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