peak

noun
\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for peak

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun At the peak of panic, ground beef became one of the hottest commodities. Alexia Elejalde-ruiz, chicagotribune.com, "Grocery prices are down from their COVID-19 summer peaks. But here’s why your food bills are still stubbornly high.," 22 Oct. 2020 At the peak, about 33,500 customers were impacted by the outage. Brandon Noriega, Fox News, "Snowstorm in Minnesota shatters record, causes hundreds of crashes and spinouts," 21 Oct. 2020 There is a novelty to drive-ins, which were at the peak of their popularity in the 1950s and '60s. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "Nostalgia abounds as the coronavirus pandemic has become a heyday for drive-in theaters," 21 Oct. 2020 As of late June, 1 in 6 U.S. households was experiencing what researchers call food insecurity, surpassing the rate at the peak of the Great Recession, according to the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. Leslie Patton, Bloomberg.com, "The Pandemic Tears a Hole in a Vital Child Nutrition Safety Net," 21 Oct. 2020 Online shopping, which accounted for nearly a quarter of sales pre-pandemic, spiked to as much as 40% at the peak of the pandemic. Phil Wahba, Fortune, "Kohl’s bets on more activewear, fewer store brands to finally get back to growth," 20 Oct. 2020 In 1946, Big Labor was at the peak of its influence. Michael Watson, National Review, "The ‘Redistributionist Right’ Would Strengthen Unions to Workers’ Detriment," 19 Oct. 2020 Reassess your finances and relationships in the first half of April, when your good judgment is at a peak. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Horoscope for Oct. 18, 2020: Taurus, social calendar fills; Virgo, compromise to make everyone happy," 18 Oct. 2020 This time of year, the bigtooth maples there should just about be at the peak of their fall color change. Richard A. Marini, ExpressNews.com, "3 scenic drives through Texas Hill Country from Interstate 10 in San Antonio area," 14 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But head lettuce consumption actually didn't peak nationally until 1989. Justin Fox, Star Tribune, "Americans turn over a new leaf, in the produce aisle," 23 Oct. 2020 While the meteor shower will peak in the overnight hours on October 21, the best view will be during a brief window between 1 a.m. and dawn in your area. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Orionid meteor shower peaks this week," 20 Oct. 2020 One clue that agriculture is responsible is that the dust levels tend to peak during spring and fall—planting and harvesting seasons, Hallar notes. Roland Pease, Science | AAAS, "Dust Bowl 2.0? Rising Great Plains dust levels stir concerns," 20 Oct. 2020 It's expected the meteor shower will peak in the early-morning hours on Oct. 21, around 1 a.m., but skygazers should check timeanddate.com to get an idea of the best viewing time in their area. Chris Ciaccia, Fox News, "Orionid meteor shower will light up the sky this week: What you need to know," 20 Oct. 2020 Chris Muzio from Danzio Performance Engineering created a high-tech package that provides sophisticated traction control, integrating into the transmission for sub-100-millisecond shifts in track mode and ensuring they're matched to peak rpm. Brett Berk, Car and Driver, "1750-HP SSC Tuatara Sets Record for Fastest Production Car," 19 Oct. 2020 The one that stood out from the crowd was, unsurprisingly, Pikachu, which took more than twice as long to peak, at 26 days. Gareth Morinan, Wired, "Was the ‘Surprised Pikachu’ Meme a Stealth Marketing Campaign?," 15 Oct. 2020 Since then, the virus has increasingly spread in other countries with survivors, including Israel, which has seen infections peak over the past few weeks. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "Germany to give $662M to Holocaust survivors during pandemic, Claims Conference says," 14 Oct. 2020 But despite their best efforts, the justices are facing a brewing political storm that could peak after Election Day if they are called upon to decide the election’s outcome. Mark Sherman, chicagotribune.com, "Politics has a way of finding a Supreme Court eager to avoid it: ‘Right now the politicization of the courts puts their decisions front and center’," 9 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Because participants will be in peak physical condition, many are expected to become infected with the coronavirus but show mild symptoms, or none at all. Jenny Strasburg, WSJ, "Volunteers to Be Infected With Coronavirus in Vaccine-Effectiveness Trials in U.K.," 20 Oct. 2020 According to retail conference company CommerceNext, 49 percent of merchants worry that fulfillment centers may struggle to keep up with e-commerce levels like these and 60 percent think shippers may cap deliveries during peak demand. NBC News, "FedEx, UPS face 'shipageddon' with potential shortfall of 7 million packages a day over holiday season," 20 Oct. 2020 On July 29, the US reported more than 71,300 infections, about two weeks after a peak daily case count of more than 77,000 cases. Christina Maxouris, CNN, "The US reported the most Covid-19 cases in a day since July. Deaths may begin climbing, too, a leading expert says," 17 Oct. 2020 The peak 627 pound-feet of torque is available between 2500 rpm and 4500 rpm. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, "2021 Mercedes-AMG E63 S Does It All," 12 Oct. 2020 And just to withstand the forces of spaceflight, astronauts need to be in peak physical condition. National Geographic, "How the 'right stuff' to be an astronaut has changed over the years," 7 Oct. 2020 Thomas Jefferson, whose peak net worth in current dollars reached $236.8 million according to research by 24/7 Wall Street, died in debt. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Ethics experts see national security concern in Trump’s debt," 29 Sep. 2020 The state’s grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, estimates that one megawatt of electricity powers about 200 homes during peak demand. Paul O'donnell, Dallas News, "Power generator Vistra pumps $850 million into renewables push in Texas," 29 Sep. 2020 Last month, the state’s grid operator imposed rolling blackouts on people in the state during peak demand amid an intense heat wave. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Energy: Western wildfires rise to the top of the presidential campaign agenda," 14 Sep. 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.

See More

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 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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about peak

Time Traveler for peak

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for peak

Last Updated

25 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Peak.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/peak. Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for peak

peak

noun
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

peak

noun
\ 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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Here Be Dragons: A Creature Identification Quiz

  • monster werewolf photo
  • Which is a synonym of werewolf?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!