\ 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

This hormone peaks in early pregnancy, which is when morning sickness is usually at its worst, Dr. Quimper explains. Korin Miller, SELF, "Is It True That Morning Sickness Means Something Good During Pregnancy?," 10 Jan. 2019 With holiday shopping season at its peak and winter weather approaching, the brand really couldn't have picked a better time to be generous with the discounts. Jillian Ruffo, Glamour, "Meghan Markle's Favorite $20 Lip Balm Is on Sale Right Now," 30 Nov. 2018 Two days before Thanksgiving this year, bitcoin is trading at $4,577, or 77 percent below its peak. Rani Molla, Recode, "Don’t be the jerk who brings up bitcoin this Thanksgiving," 20 Nov. 2018 Each event usually lasts 9-12 months, develops in the late fall or early winter, and usually peaks in January or February. Megan Barber, Curbed, "El Niño watch: Here’s what it means for cities," 19 Sep. 2018 The transition to and from the prodromal state is presaged by greater variability in local peaks in brain activity. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Oscillating brain goes regular before migraine pain hits," 15 Aug. 2018 At the other extreme of the country from the mountain peaks of Ladakh are the low-lying Andaman and Nicobar Islands where voting machines were transported by various seafaring vessels for Thursday’s vote. Amrit Dhillon, The Seattle Times, "Poll workers journey to reach India’s most remote voters," 14 Apr. 2019 According to The New York Times, getting to Everest’s 29,029-foot peak can be a deadly journey that costs $30,000 to $100,000. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "4 Things That Might Be Easier Than Getting Donald Trump’s Tax Returns," 15 Apr. 2019 Donations are needed when no one else is giving them Disaster relief tends to happen in abrupt peaks. Kelsey Piper, Vox, "Why disaster relief is so hard," 25 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Catalonia has also undergone political turmoil, peaking recently in 2017 with an independence referendum not recognized by Madrid. Tales Azzoni, The Seattle Times, "Plenty of politics at play in Venezuela-Catalonia friendly," 24 Mar. 2019 Another corporate image tracker, the Harris Poll Reputation Quotient, also shows Walmart’s reputation peaking in 2016. Matthew Boyle,, "Walmart's Image Takes a Dive Despite Effort to Alter Narrative," 25 June 2018 The Lakers-Celtics rivalry was renewed in 1987, and the L.A. dynasty peaked in this six-game series. Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle, "How the Warriors, Cavaliers are linked in history," 30 May 2018 In 2017 in Central Florida, gas prices peaked in September after Hurricanes Harvey caused refinery shutdowns and distribution problems. Kyle Arnold,, "Orlando may have narrowly avoided $3-a-gallon gas for 2018," 29 May 2018 Perhaps circumstances off some mitigation, but for a manager who usually peaks in his second season at a club, there must be a degree of concern. Jonathan Wilson,, "FA Cup Victory a Probable Farewell Gift for Antonio Conte," 19 May 2018 Temperatures may peak in the upper 90s as dew points reach the 70s. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, "‘Oppressive’ heat possible by early next week around Washington," 14 June 2018 Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson have peaked at just the right time. Jesse Smithey, Detroit Free Press, "Masters predictions: Other than Tiger Woods, who contends at Augusta?," 31 Mar. 2018 However, the auto industry had already peaked in 1997 at 121,000 jobs. Marcia Pledger,, "Better-paying jobs needed for manufacturing to survive, new report shows," 12 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 The full pink moon will reach its peak fullness on Friday, April 19 at 7:12 p.m. EST. Allure, "A Pink Moon Arrives on Friday — Here's What That Means for You," 18 Apr. 2019 According to the Almanac, the moon will reach peak fullness at 7:12 A.M. (EDT) on Friday, April 19. Rebekah Lowin, Country Living, "A Pink Moon Is Coming This Spring: Here's Everything You Need to Know," 14 Apr. 2019 The intent of the live 5G networks at the tech summit is to demonstrate 5G user experiences rather than peak speeds. Sean Hollister, The Verge, "The first ‘real world’ 5G test was a dud," 5 Dec. 2018 Osaka has reached the top of the game, but not her peak potential. Louisa Thomas, Vogue, "The New Number One: Naomi Osaka Is Playing to Win," 21 Mar. 2019 The Transportation Security Administration was working closely with airport officials to meet peak demand, an airport spokeswoman said. Joe Taschler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "No vacancy: Mitchell airport parking lots full amid a crush of spring break travelers," 27 Mar. 2018 But the government will need to rehabilitate a grid that produces an average of 15,000 megawatts, although peak demand reaches 22,000 megawatts, said Electricity Minister Luay Khatteeb. Nabih Bulos, The Seattle Times, "Baghdad, once a jewel among Arab capitals, is barely functional," 28 Jan. 2019 December to April is peak travel time, as Americans seek to escape the winter, so hotels and flights may be more expensive during this time. Kaitlin Menza, Town & Country, "The Best Things to Do, Eat, and See in Curaçao," 8 Jan. 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

Comments on peak

What made you want to look up peak? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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