\ 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.
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
peaked; peaking; peaks

Definition of peak (Entry 4 of 5)

intransitive verb

1 : to grow thin or sickly
2 : to dwindle away
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 Instead, a new pattern runs through our days, persisting even though Boston is past the peak of the coronavirus pandemic’s first wave. Clayton Dalton, The New Yorker, "The Risks of Normalizing the Coronavirus," 27 May 2020 Go here to vote for who would win if A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser were on the track at their peak. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, "Behind the the making of NBC's special Sunday show 'Indy 500 Special: Back Home Again'," 21 May 2020 At its peak, in the financial year ending March 2012, SKNL posted a profit of Rs470.84 crore. Niharika Sharma, Quartz India, "A 180-year old cloth brand with a Bond and Bachchan connection shuts shop in India," 21 May 2020 Mortalities are leveling off as the countries move past the peak of the pandemic, with England and Wales reporting a decrease in the number of deaths involving the virus on the previous week. Eddie Spence,, "U.K.’s First in Europe to Record 40,000 Virus-Linked Deaths," 19 May 2020 Mortalities are leveling off as the countries move past the peak of the pandemic, with England and Wales reporting a decrease in the number of deaths involving the virus on the previous week., "UN chief recommends scaled-back UN meeting of world leaders," 19 May 2020 The Sheboygan River in Sheboygan, the only local river at moderate flood-stage, reached a peak of 11.08 feet — the same crest recorded in the historic June 2008 flooding. Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Southeast Wisconsin's rivers and lakes are extra-full after heavy rain, but worst of flooding is over," 18 May 2020 Once the show hit its peak, the network no longer minded the leather jacket. Rosy Cordero,, "Henry Winkler reveals why Fonzie had his motorcycle with him indoors on Happy Days," 8 May 2020 At its peak 1,800 U.S. and Canadian military personnel manned the facility, and dorm-style housing, cafeterias, food, water, and electricity made the facility self-sufficient in emergencies. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain Fortress Is Back in Business," 6 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Still, the community did get a small reprieve: Floodwaters that were expected to peak at 38 feet, crested at about 4 p.m. Wednesday closer to 35 feet levels the city had ever seen before. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "Mid-Michigan flooding crests at 35 feet, Whitmer requests FEMA help: What we know," 21 May 2020 Still, the community did get a small reprieve: Floodwaters that were expected to peak at 38 feet, crested at about 4 p.m. Wednesday closer to 35-feet levels. Frank Witsil, USA TODAY, "Mid-Michigan flooding crests at 35 feet, Whitmer requests FEMA help: What we know," 21 May 2020 The amount of crude oil in storage tanks is expected to peak in the second quarter, before demand significantly increases around the world. Sergio Chapa,, "Amount of stored oil expected to peak in 2nd quarter, EIA says," 19 May 2020 Coronavirus infections are expected to peak next week and there’s little to show for their effort. Alex Morales,, "Most U.K.-Made Ventilators Won’t Arrive Ahead of Virus Peak," 12 May 2020 Two meteor showers, the Eta-Aquariids and the Eta-Lyrids, are also expected to peak in early May, although NASA notes that the light of the nearly full moon will interfere with visibility. Fox News, "Last supermoon of 2020: NASA’s top tips for May skywatchers," 28 Apr. 2020 And the coronavirus outbreak is expected to peak within weeks. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "World War II offers lessons—and warnings—for the coronavirus fight," 5 Apr. 2020 Louisiana is expected to peak April 10, but California not until April 28, according to their estimates. NBC News, "Death tolls in California and Louisiana hint at the urgency to 'flatten the curve'," 31 Mar. 2020 New York, which is currently overwhelmed with coronavirus cases, is expected to peak 10 days before Ohio, in line with Acton’s predictions. Laura Johnston, cleveland, "University of Washington projection: Coronavirus won’t overwhelm Ohio hospitals and ICU beds," 30 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Tip: Aim to stain in the morning or evening, not during peak sun time at midday. Ashley Leath, Country Living, "How to Stain a Deck Like a Pro," 17 Apr. 2020 All roads lead to protests While the Christmas season is usually peak time for foreign tourists to visit India, that’s not the case this year. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "Year-end train ticket sales drop sharply in India amid nation-wide protests," 26 Dec. 2019 Spring and summer are peak nesting season for Western and Clark’s grebes, and Lake Hodges has become a major nursery for the large water birds. Ernie Cowan, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Officials respond to concerns about grebe nests," 8 June 2019 April through mid-June normally is peak catfish spawning season, so the research project involves multiple monitoring trips during that period. Shannon Tompkins,, "Fish in a barrel, or how to spawn cats in a small lake," 6 June 2019 Usually, the post-monsoon period is peak fishing time. Supriya Vohra, Quartz India, "“There is no fish in the ocean”: The future has arrived in this Indian fishing village," 18 Feb. 2020 December through March is usually peak season for bushfires in Australia, so more blazes are likely, especially after one of the most severe droughts on record last year. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "What You Can Do to Help During the Australia Bushfires," 6 Jan. 2020 Chad Olech, a sound engineer for Fall Out Boy, said that for most workers, the delays have hit just as the business was set to ramp up for its peak annual period, after the lean months of winter. Ben Sisario, New York Times, "Concerts Are on Hold. Workers Behind the Stars Are Hurting.," 17 Mar. 2020 Wondering how a garment will fare in the rainforest in peak rainy season? Scott Yorko, Popular Mechanics, "The Toughest Jackets on Earth Are Built in This Torture Chamber," 18 Feb. 2020

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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Learn More about peak

Time Traveler for peak

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for peak

Last Updated

30 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Peak.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for peak


How to pronounce peak (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for peak

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with peak

Spanish Central: Translation of peak

Nglish: Translation of peak for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of peak for Arabic Speakers

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