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

New freshmen enrollment by California students at ASU reached a peak in 2015, when more than 1,400 freshmen signed up for ASU classes. Rachel Leingang, azcentral, "Arizona universities got a boost in admissions from California in the past decade," 12 July 2018 As anger over the policy reached its peak, Trump signed an Executive Order on June 20 to enable these families to stay together. Philip Elliott, Time, "Two Military Bases in Texas Set to House Thousands of Migrants," 25 June 2018 Higher volumes of e-commerce shipping and residential deliveries have shifted resources away from traditional logistics operations, further expanding business costs--especially at times of year when volumes reach their peak. Erica E. Phillips, WSJ, "Companies Spent a Record $1.5 Trillion on Shipping Costs in 2017," 19 June 2018 During the financial collapse, the transition rate from 30 days past due to 60 days past due reached a peak of 31 percent in November 2008. Jeff Andrews, Curbed, "Foreclosure rates remain at lowest levels in 11 years," 13 June 2018 That process reached a new peak in the bruising 2016 presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Ronald Brownstein, CNN, "Republicans and Democrats increasingly really do occupy different worlds," 12 June 2018 When the confrontation reached its peak at the shelter, officers Brad Nutting fired one round, Chad Phifer fired two, Alexandru Martiniuc fired three, Kameron Fender fired four and Polas fired six, according to police Detective Erik Kammerer. Aimee Green, OregonLive.com, "Police officers describe 'pandemonium' during fatal homeless shelter shooting," 11 June 2018 The back of the phone actually has cooling vents, which, combined with the vapor cooling system, allow the throttle-happy Snapdragon chip to run at peak performance for five times longer than normal. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Asus’ insane gaming phone has 3 USB ports, clip-on cooling fan," 4 June 2018 Gas prices reached their all-time peak in the state at $4.085 in 2008. Bruce Henderson, charlotteobserver, "Driving to the beach this summer? It'll cost you more than last year. | Charlotte Observer," 18 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But the studio recording got the point across enough to peak at No. 3 on Billboard's Hot 100. Ed Masley, azcentral, "These are the best songs of 2018, so far," 12 July 2018 But what’s peaking now is what Geyh labels a third wave of polarization, focused on the use of procedural devices to kill judicial nominations. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, "With departure of swing vote, a pivotal moment for the Supreme Court," 28 June 2018 Her season average all-around score is 36.45, peaking at 37.075. Dave Melton, Post-Tribune, "Merrillville's Abby Smith uses 'phenomenal' work ethic to regain top form," 20 Feb. 2018 Bielema went to consecutive Rose Bowls at Wisconsin but was fired after five seasons that peaked at eight wins at Arkansas. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "Hello, KU AD Jeff Long. Goodbye, football coach David Beaty," 11 July 2018 Amid a heat wave that peaked Friday and continued to set records in many places over the weekend, several fires broke out. latimes.com, "Today: A Mile-Long Dive Through Peril," 9 July 2018 Yes, there is such a thing as seasonal affective disorder (sometimes referred to as seasonal depression), which is a type of depression that typically peaks in the winter months and subsides in the spring and summer. Beth Mccoll, SELF, "A Shout Out to Anyone Who Deals With Depression in the Summer," 6 July 2018 At Stephens County Airport in Breckenridge, wind gusts peaked at 47 mph. Bill Hanna, star-telegram, "Weird weather: Temperature soars near 100 after midnight in Texas town," 25 June 2018 The stock recently peaked at $62.62 on May 29, its highest since September 2000. David Staats, idahostatesman, "Boise's Micron reports record sales, big profits amid robust demand for memory," 20 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Afternoon highs should cluster near 90 degrees Sunday and, coupled with dew points in the 70s, peak afternoon heat indexes should reach the middle and upper 90s. Tom Skilling, chicagotribune.com, "Warm and muggy through Monday, then comfortably cooler," 14 July 2018 Dolby Vision adjusts the brightness and color of scenes with metadata, and supports up to a 12-bit color depth and higher peak brightness targets than HDR10. Tom Warren, The Verge, "Xbox One is getting Dolby Vision support," 12 July 2018 Rough Seas Container operators fight below breakeven freight rates at the start of shippings peak season with trade tariffs looming. Costas Paris, WSJ, "Trade Tariffs Could Push Shipping to the Edge," 9 July 2018 Because peak fertilizer production takes place between August and March, many ammonia plants slow their operations or shut down for maintenance from April to June. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "A Carbon Dioxide Shortage Is Threatening the U.K.’s Supply of Beer and Crumpets," 3 July 2018 The Strawberry Moon will reach peak fullness on Thursday at 12:53 a.m. ET, according to Time and Leisure. Jennifer Earl, Fox News, "Strawberry Moon and Saturn to put on dazzling display this week," 27 June 2018 This week off-peak lane closures from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. will appear in the eastbound lanes between Route 59 and Washington Street for pavement removal and replacement. Suzanne Baker, Naperville Sun, "Road and ramp repairs on I-88 between Naperville and Oak Brook start this week," 10 July 2018 This is cool Some upscale restaurants are transforming into co-working office spaces during their off-peak downtime hours. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Today’s daily deal: Groupon wants to sell itself," 9 July 2018 All around Michigan summer is peak time for markets to begin popping up. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "Dig in! Farmers market season is here," 9 June 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

Phrases Related to peak

peak season

peaks and valleys

Statistics for peak

Last Updated

20 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for peak

The first known use of peak was in the 15th 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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