\ 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)

: 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


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

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 Seventeen got a sneak peak at this week’s new episode of American Beauty Star, Lifetime's hair and makeup reality competition series, and OMG, the makeup looks are magnificent. Erika Trombley, Seventeen, "This "Descendants 3" and "American Beauty Star" Crossover Episode Is To Die For," 20 Feb. 2019 When ready to serve, beat cream into stiff peaks and spread on top of pie. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "100+ Easy Dessert Recipes," 15 Jan. 2019 In another bowl, beat cream just to soft peaks; set aside. Heather Finn, Good Housekeeping, "This Christmas Trifle Recipe Is the Ultimate Make-Ahead Holiday Dessert," 12 Dec. 2018 Mount Baker is about 15 miles from the Canadian border and is one of the highlight peaks of the Cascade Mountain range. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "4 climbers, including 2 Boy Scouts, found alive after going missing while hiking Mount Baker in Washington," 2 Oct. 2018 Earth will pass through the thickest part of the comet's trail during the daytime hours on Aug. 12, which is why the nights before and after are the Perseids' peak. Sarah Lewin,, "The 2018 Perseid Meteor Shower Promises Spectacular Views This Week," 6 Aug. 2018 In every fitness journey there will be peaks, valleys, and plateaus. SELF, "It Took Me Years to Separate Working Out from Trying to Lose Weight. Here's How I Did It," 25 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

After peaking as the App Store’s second most downloaded app back in February 2018, HQ Trivia dropped to 253rd most popular in November, and in December the company suspended its service in the UK. Jon Porter, The Verge, "HQ Trivia becomes HQ Trivia & Words as second game exits beta," 24 Dec. 2018 Still, therapeutic interest in the drugs, after peaking in 1970, quickly fell out of favor for what Pollan argues were all the wrong reasons. Ellen Ruppel Shell,, "Take a hit of acid and call me in the morning," 11 May 2018 The price of Bitcoin is up about 7% today to $8,800 after peaking around $20,000 in December. Lucinda Shen, Fortune, "Cryptocurrencies Like Bitcoin Can't Replace the Dollar, Says New York Fed Chief Nominee," 21 Apr. 2018 After peaking in 2011 at 364 million devices shipped, the market has contracted every year since then. Bloomberg News,, "Top Microsoft exec exits amid major shakeup," 29 Mar. 2018 Released last week, The Culling 2 showed up on Steam, peaked at 249 players (total), quickly fell to almost zero, and...that was it. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: Star Citizen is sued by a backer, The Culling 2 is yanked from Steam and more," 20 July 2018 The name debuted, according to, in the Top 10 list of baby names in 1955, peaking at No. 5 in 1959, around the time I was born. Donna Vickroy, Daily Southtown, "Destined to be dowdy forever? The difficulty of being named 'Donna' in 2018," 7 July 2018 After the fall in 2011 of Muammar Qaddafi, Libya’s late dictator, the numbers crossing shot up, peaking at 330,000 in 2016. The Economist, "On the edge of the Sahara, people mourn the decline of people-smuggling," 5 July 2018 After bouncing back from the Great Recession, Portland's home-price growth took off in 2016, peaking at 12.5 percent annual growth in June 2016. Elliot Njus,, "Portland metro home prices up 6.7% in March," 29 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 Just in time for the ecstasy—and the skin agony—of peak ski season. Celia Ellenberg, Vogue, "Meet the Powerful Natural Skin-Care Line That’s Making “Wildcrafted in Wyoming” a Thing," 29 Nov. 2018 The agreement prevents what would have been the company’s first work stoppage since 1997 and provides a measure of labor peace ahead of the busy peak shipping season. Paul Ziobro, WSJ, "UPS Averts Freight Strike as Teamsters Ratify New Contract," 11 Nov. 2018 Advocating for renovating a midcentury, peak corporate-modern skyscraper in New York City—designed in part by an underrecognized SOM associate, Natalie de Blois. Curbed, "Critical Eye: A year in review," 20 Dec. 2018 Canned or frozen veggies, fruit, and lower-sodium beans, lentils, chickpeas and peas all retain their peak nutritional quality and cost a lot less. Jaclyn London, Ms, Rd, Cdn, Good Housekeeping, "Why "Clean Eating" Is Total B.S., According to a Nutritionist," 29 Nov. 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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Verb (1)

1887, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


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, Verb (1), and Adjective

perhaps alteration of pike

Verb (2)

origin unknown

Verb (3)

from apeak held vertically

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Learn More about peak

Dictionary Entries near peak

pea huller


pea jacket


peak arch

peak crest


Statistics for peak

Last Updated

19 Apr 2019

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



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).


marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

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