\ 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

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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

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 Meek Mill scores the highest debut of the week with Expensive Pain at Number Three, with 97 million streams, marking a new career peak for Meek Mill. Emily Blake, Rolling Stone, 11 Oct. 2021 Those were the heated words of William H. Metson, president of the Golden Gate Park Commission, at the peak of an early 20th century battle over cars in Golden Gate Park. Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle, 10 Oct. 2021 Adele would be one of the rare artists to play a Las Vegas residency during what many consider to be a new creative peak in her career. Dave Brooks, Billboard, 5 Oct. 2021 At the peak of this most recent wave, Ochsner hospitals had 1,074 COVID-19 patients on Aug. 9. Amy Forlitt And Carla K. Johnson, Anchorage Daily News, 2 Oct. 2021 The visitors arrived mostly in July, just as the highly contagious Delta variant was hitting Japan with full force, and infections in the country hit a peak in the first part of August during the Games. Peter Landers, WSJ, 15 Sep. 2021 As Florida became the first state to reach a new peak in deaths since vaccines became freely available, DeSantis has remained steadfast in keeping schools from requiring masks without a parental opt-out., 31 Aug. 2021 As Florida became the first state to reach a new peak in deaths since vaccines became freely available, Mr. DeSantis has remained steadfast in keeping schools from requiring masks without a parental opt-out. New York Times, 31 Aug. 2021 That same month, the 10-year treasury rate also hit a recent peak. Expert Panel, Forbes, 30 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The hope is this team figures things out as the season goes along and is ready to peak come playoff time. Jason Patt, Forbes, 13 Oct. 2021 There, the danger will escalate Wednesday evening, when sundowner winds, named for their tendency to peak around sunset, are forecast to increase over the burn area. Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times, 13 Oct. 2021 Its workforce has been shrinking since 2012, and official forecasts last year predicted the total population would peak in 2027. Quentin Webb, WSJ, 10 Oct. 2021 Daina Graybosch, an analyst at SVB Leerink, forecast in a note to investors on Monday morning that molnupiravir sales will peak near $5 billion a year in 2022. Matthew Herper, STAT, 6 Oct. 2021 Things would pop off soon enough, and peak toward evening, as the imperative shifted to covering as much action as possible in real time. Elizabeth Nelson, New York Times, 6 Oct. 2021 Woronka said there is no penalty to booking a vehicle for the holidays — or even peak travel times in 2022 — now. Hannah Sampson, Anchorage Daily News, 5 Oct. 2021 As of this past Friday, mail in the United States is more expensive and, in many cases, much slower, thanks to a new and controversial service standard that reduces post office hours and charges consumers peak shipping rates. Allison Morrow, CNN, 3 Oct. 2021 But its ability to peak in spring set it up to remain high on the charts during the summer. Troy L. Smith, cleveland, 28 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective While astronauts have primarily been middle-aged white men in peak physical condition, today’s commercial space travelers come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. Lisa Suennen, STAT, 26 Sep. 2021 Chua said his restaurant, Ping Ping's Native Lechon, has gone from peak weekly sales of 300 pigs in 2018 to about a third of that. Washington Post, 21 Dec. 2020 American consumers are being asked to pay higher prices for electric vehicles—which depend on higher prices for less-dependable electricity that may not be available during peak demand or in the aftermath of wildfires, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Diana Furchtgott-roth, Forbes, 5 Sep. 2021 On September 14, Mississippi reported its post-peak low for average daily cases: 412, Johns Hopkins University data show. Jason Hanna, CNN, 23 Oct. 2020 There will also be some reduced staffing down to only two ambassadors on duty during non-peak hours from November to March,. Thomas Jewell, cleveland, 7 Sep. 2021 Built by Reliant Energy, the Osceola plant first went into service in 2003, providing electricity to customers during peak demand. Kevin Spear,, 10 Aug. 2021 For Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, that kind of uncertainty can take a huge toll: Their training plans are meticulously designed to get them into peak mental and physical shape during the Olympics. Molly Longman,, 29 July 2021 Two more peak meteor shower nights continue Thursday and Friday Aug. 12 and 13. Joan Rusek, cleveland, 2 Aug. 2021

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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Time Traveler for peak

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near peak

pea jacket


peak arch

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Statistics for peak

Last Updated

14 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Peak.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Oct. 2021.

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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 3 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on peak

Nglish: Translation of peak for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of peak for Arabic Speakers


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