peak

noun
\ˈpēk \

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.

peak

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

peak

adjective

Definition of peak (Entry 3 of 5)

: 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

peak

verb (2)
peaked; peaking; peaks

Definition of peak (Entry 4 of 5)

intransitive verb

1 : to grow thin or sickly

2 : to dwindle away

peak

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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Choose the Right Synonym for peak

Noun

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

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Continue beating on medium speed until whites are glossy and shiny and hold a stiff peak, 2-3 minutes. Gabriella Gershenson, WSJ, "Is Boston Cream Pie the World’s Most Delicious...Cake?," 9 Nov. 2018 And so consequently, the peaks of everything are smaller, right? Eric Johnson, Recode, "John Skipper, ESPN’s former president, is back ... at a rival sports media company.," 8 Nov. 2018 The giant volcanoes of Hawaii's Big Island held a special place for the Polynesians who first settled there, with the peak of Mauna Kea being reserved for that society's elite. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Hawaiian Supreme Court gives go-ahead to giant telescope," 1 Nov. 2018 Kloss is continuing to give the world a tiny peak inside their very private wedding in upstate New York. Chrissy Rutherford, Harper's BAZAAR, "Karlie Kloss Shares More Photos From Private Wedding to Josh Kushner," 26 Oct. 2018 If a trans woman can be a superhero, that's 'gotta be peak for anybody. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Nicole Maines Is the Superhero Television Needs Right Now," 17 Oct. 2018 The Perseids peak this weekend, promising dazzling views for skywatchers in dark areas. Sarah Lewin, Space.com, "The 2018 Perseid Meteor Shower Promises Spectacular Views This Week," 6 Aug. 2018 Tharp discovered that the mountains had a huge rift running through center of the chain, with high peaks on each side. Meg Neal, Popular Mechanics, "We’ve Been Wrong Before: The Expanding Earth Theory," 3 Aug. 2018 When copyright troll lawsuits took off in 2010, growing from 4 percent of all copyright cases to a peak of 58 percent in 2015, the Prenda law firm, which had a South Beach office, led the charge. Adiel Kaplan, miamiherald, "The Steven Spielberg of porn sues to make Floridians stop pirating his raunchy videos," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

By the time patients get to the emergency room, their migraines are usually peaking. Tony Dajer, Discover Magazine, "Vertigo, Panic and Trouble Breathing: What's Going On Here?," 19 Oct. 2018 The political backlash against immigration is therefore peaking at a time when the number of migrants is receding. The Economist, "America’s immigration system is broken," 28 June 2018 In 2014, when the last migration wave was peaking, the $295 million that America spent on foreign aid in Central America was less than 10 percent of our overall border-security program. Will Bunch, Philly.com, "The place to save desperate, crying kids isn't the U.S. border. It's Honduras and Guatemala | Will Bunch," 21 June 2018 When the unemployment rate was last around 3.8 percent in 2000, the proportion of women who either had a job or were looking for one was peaking. CBS News, "Why the robust economy doesn't reflect the reality for many Americans," 16 June 2018 No compatible source was found for this media. Advertisement X McCain is peaking at the right time. Adam H. Beasley, miamiherald, "McCain on his shot at starting, contract talk and his now-squashed feud with Amendola," 29 May 2018 Marty Pearl/Special to Courier Journal Louisville's 2018 baseball team, once young and rebuilding, is now peaking at the perfect time to make some history of its own. Gentry Estes, The Courier-Journal, "Red-hot Louisville baseball to play for ACC Tournament title," 26 May 2018 Elina Svitolina seems to be peaking at the right time, drubbing Simona Halep in the Rome final, but Halep remains a deserving favorite at Roland Garros. The Si Staff, SI.com, "French Open 2018 Preview Roundtable: Predictions, Dark Horses, More," 23 May 2018 Bader believes his skills, body and mind are peaking at the right time for the eight-man heavyweight tournament, which will take place over the course of several months. Jay Reddick, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Ryan Bader: I'm peaking for Bellator heavyweight tournament," 11 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Every April, just as peak wedding season gets underway, the mother of all bridal shows takes place in Barcelona. Erik Maza, Town & Country, "The Haute Couture Details That Go Into Pronovias Wedding Gowns," 10 Oct. 2018 These recent fires have barely made a dent in the glut of dead trees, CalFire says, and peak fire season in Southern California is still to come later this year. Umair Irfan, Vox, "California has 129 million dead trees. That’s a huge wildfire risk.," 1 Sep. 2018 Running backs can’t sustain peak performance forever. Michael Salfino, WSJ, "The Bell Tolls in Pittsburgh," 18 July 2018 Pregnancy is always a transformative experience, physically and emotionally, but Williams’s livelihood—and identity, as the documentary shows—hinge on her singularly peak performance. Sonia Saraiya, HWD, "We’ve Never Seen an Athlete’s Story Quite Like Serena Williams’ HBO Docuseries," 2 May 2018 Although the winter months offer better waves, the summer is still peak season for midwestern surfers. David North, Chicago Reader, "Sickened surfers say the best waves in Lake Michigan are in the polluted waters off northwest Indiana," 10 July 2018 The Fourth of July is always peak season for runaway dogs, who take off when startled by the loud explosions of fireworks. Billy Baker, BostonGlobe.com, "Summer fireworks season is peak time for runaway dogs," 7 July 2018 Fourth of July is peak season for the beer, wine, and spirits industry, according to Nielsen. Chris Morris, Fortune, "6 Beers and 6 Wines to Improve Your Fourth of July Cookout," 29 June 2018 On March 20, 1995, Aum members released sarin gas on several Tokyo subway trains during peak commute hours, causing chaos in the capital. Author: Stuart Biggs, Gearoid Reidy, Anchorage Daily News, "Japan executes cult leader and 6 others for deadly 1995 sarin attack," 6 July 2018

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

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 above

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

perhaps alteration of pike

Verb (1)

see peak entry 1

Adjective

see peak entry 1

Verb (2)

origin unknown

Verb (3)

from apeak held vertically

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Learn More about peak

Dictionary Entries near peak

pea huller

peai

pea jacket

peak

peak arch

peak crest

peaked

Statistics for peak

Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for peak

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

See more words from the same century

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More Definitions for peak

peak

noun

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

peak

adjective

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

: at the highest point or level

: filled with the most activity

peak

noun
\ˈpēk \

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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Comments on peak

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