peak

1 of 5

noun

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 hillH. 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.
7

peak

2 of 5

verb (1)

peaked; peaking; peaks

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

peak

3 of 5

adjective

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

peak

4 of 5

verb (2)

peaked; peaking; peaks

intransitive verb

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

peak

5 of 5

verb (3)

peaked; peaking; peaks

transitive verb

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

Did you know?

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.

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

Example Sentences

Noun 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. Adjective The factory has been running at peak capacity for the past year. the peak season for fishing See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Despite a blockbuster initial public offering in November 2021, Rivian’s shares have fallen nearly 90% from their peak that month to Tuesday’s close. Reuters, CNN, 1 Feb. 2023 In March 2022, near the peak of the startup funding frenzy, 44 founders of unicorns–private companies valued at over $1 billion–were worth a total of $190 billion, according to Forbes’ estimates. Matt Durot, Forbes, 27 Jan. 2023 Archaeologists have estimated that at its peak, around the year 1200, more than 20,000 people lived in Cahokia and its outskirts. Logan Jaffe, ProPublica, 27 Jan. 2023 San Diego County’s median home price ended the year down nearly $100,000 from its peak. San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 Jan. 2023 At its peak, Celsius had 2 million customers and a $3 million valuation. ABC News, 26 Jan. 2023 Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Susan Collins said she’s leaning toward supporting a quarter-point interest rate hike at the central bank’s next meeting ending Feb. 1 as officials near a peak in borrowing costs. BostonGlobe.com, 11 Jan. 2023 The idea that interest rates are near their peak defies history. Alan Murray, Fortune, 4 Jan. 2023 That's up from 60% in October and near the year's peak of 64% in March. Medora Lee, USA TODAY, 18 Dec. 2022
Verb
Comcast says losses from its streaming service Peacock will peak in 2023 at about $3 billion. Los Angeles Times, 31 Jan. 2023 Beside the regular full moons and constellations, meteor showers will be abundant, giving you more chances to see shooting stars (scroll down to find out when each of the 11 showers will peak). Manasee Wagh, Popular Mechanics, 18 Jan. 2023 The tide will peak around 10:15 a.m. Saturday at 7.16 feet, the NWS said. Claire Hao, San Francisco Chronicle, 18 Jan. 2023 In 2007, Chinese experts predicted that the country’s population would peak at 1.5 billion in 2033. Bynicholas Gordon, Fortune, 17 Jan. 2023 The American Meteor Society said this year's Orionid shower will peak Oct. 20-21. USA Today, 5 Jan. 2023 Experts don’t know exactly when cases of all three respiratory viruses will peak. Dallas News, 26 Dec. 2022 The precise timing and size of a new Covid wave is difficult to predict, with experts forecasting that cases might peak nationally anytime between the end of December and early February. Emily Anthes, New York Times, 22 Dec. 2022 What many men don’t realize is that their testosterone levels peak in their mid-30s. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 21 Dec. 2022
Adjective
However this is still a far cry, down 69.7%, from the peak seven-day average in mid-January 2022 when 21,525 were admitted with COVID. Eleanor Pringle, Fortune, 6 Jan. 2023 This seven-track album was put together by a four-piece from Austin, Texas, and made for peak sad summer listening. Corbin Reiff, SPIN, 28 Dec. 2022 Generate buzz during peak travel dates leading up to the new year, while people are focused on post-holiday sales, and set up a discount code or limited-time offer to expedite their purchase. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 19 Dec. 2022 Quintessential Ralph Lauren, This trench is peak classic Americana style with a sleek silhouette. Stand out in the sea of beige trenches with this navy option that is chic and timeless with a modern twist. Ty Gaskins, Men's Health, 14 Dec. 2022 Bookings are released in three batches, with super-peak weeks being the first batch. Emma Reynolds, Robb Report, 12 Dec. 2022 Starting from $23/month. Turn your home into an oyster bar with a monthly delivery of ready-to-shuck peak-season oysters. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, 24 Nov. 2022 That doesn’t mean there won’t be peak travel days, though. Dallas News, 16 Nov. 2022 Hospital admissions last week were down 72.2% from the peak seven-day average in early January 2021. Alison Steinbach, The Arizona Republic, 14 Dec. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Noun, Verb (1), and Adjective

perhaps alteration of pike

Verb (2)

origin unknown

Verb (3)

from apeak held vertically

First Known Use

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Verb (1)

1887, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Adjective

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

Time Traveler
The first known use of peak was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near peak

Cite this Entry

“Peak.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/peak. Accessed 9 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

peak

1 of 2 noun
1
: a part of a piece of clothing that is pointed or sticks out
especially : the front part of a cap or hat
2
a
: the top of a hill or mountain
b
: a mountain all by itself
3
: the highest point of development
the peak of perfection
peak adjective

peak

2 of 2 verb
: to reach or cause to come to a peak, point, or maximum

More from Merriam-Webster on peak

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