\ 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 The money would have to come from markets where banks have struggled in recent months to find buyers for riskier, leveraged buyout loans, as investors weigh the risks of lending at the peak of a record-long credit boom., "KKR makes formal approach to Walgreens Boots on record buyout - The Boston Globe," 12 Nov. 2019 As many as 10,000 people participated during the peak of the demonstrations. Lauren M. Johnson, CNN, "Keystone Pipeline leaks 383,000 gallons of oil in North Dakota," 31 Oct. 2019 In Louisiana, nearly 70,000 buildings were without power at the peak of the storm. Fox News, "Tropical Storm Olga leaves downed trees, potential gusty winds in Mississippi, Louisiana," 27 Oct. 2019 At the peak of the evening rush hour, the transit center that normally teemed with buses was summarily closed. John Brant, Popular Mechanics, "It Was Supposed to Be the Safest Building in the World. Then It Cracked.," 25 Oct. 2019 And this makes sense, Princess Di has been at the peak of fashion’s zeitgeist this year. Vogue, "Emily Ratajkowski Embraces Fall’s New ’80s Boot Trend," 18 Oct. 2019 Nevertheless, Sirius has struck multi-year sales agreements with customers to supply in total 13.8m tonnes a year at the peak. The Economist, "Sirius Minerals, Britain’s first deep mine in decades, is in a hole," 17 Oct. 2019 In off months, take the bus to Kriens to catch a cable car up to the peak of Pilatus. Malavika Bhattacharya, National Geographic, "Visit this historic Swiss city beneath the ‘dragon mountain’," 5 Oct. 2019 The league has so many players at the peak of their high-flying ways, including the Magic’s Aaron Gordon, Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets, Blake Griffin of the Detroit Pistons and Dennis Mitchell of the Utah Jazz. Stephen Ruiz,, "Magic players recall one of basketball’s rites of passage, their first dunks," 1 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The turmoil comes as U.S. coal production is down over 30% since peaking in 2008. Washington Post, "Workers off the job question future of top US coal region," 15 Sep. 2019 Football has seen participation decline steadily since peaking in the last 20 years at 10,815 players in the 2009-10 school year, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Shawn Mcfarland,, "As high school football participation numbers decline, many programs in Connecticut have looked to form co-ops," 10 Sep. 2019 His debut album Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent has found similar success, also peaking in both the U.K. and Ireland, becoming the fastest-selling album of the year, as well as outselling all of the top 10 combined in both countries. Ruth Kinane,, "Lewis Capaldi has 'no f—ing clue' why you love his song 'Someone You Loved' so much," 10 Sep. 2019 While union membership peaked in 1979 when nearly 21 million were members, the percentage of workers who belonged to unions actually hit a high of 28.3% of all those employed in 1954, according to the Congressional Research Service. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, "Labor Day 2019: A closeup look at the U.S. work force as holiday arrives," 2 Sep. 2019 Residential investment in America began to drop two years before the start of the Great Recession, and employment in the industry peaked in April 2006. The Economist, "Parts of America may already be facing recession," 31 Aug. 2019 The podcast launched just as the Bitcoin bubble peaked in the winter of 2017, and hosts Aaron Lammer and Jay Kang have spend the last year and a half educating themselves and listeners about cryptocurrency. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "A Spy in the House of Byrne—The Ledger," 26 Aug. 2019 The trend is up for resale apparel and the trend has been down for department stores, which as a group has been shrinking every year since sales peaked in 1999. Maria Halkias, Dallas News, "Retail Therapy: J.C. Penney and Macy's test the 'pre-loved' business with thredUP," 22 Aug. 2019 The study’s authors found compensation took off in the 1990s, peaked in 2000 and has fluctuated since, most notably around the burst of the dot-com bubble in the early 2000s and the recession of 2008 and 2009., "Twitter’s moves on Hong Kong; Disney+ coming Nov. 12," 19 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Mikhitarian said the changes in inventory could also be a result of more purchases in the summertime, usually peak season for home buying, before school and the holidays start. Caroline Glenn,, "For the first time in 2019, inventory of homes for sale in Central Florida drops," 17 Sep. 2019 An overboost function raises peak torque output to 202 lb.-ft. under maximum acceleration. Sue Mead, Houston Chronicle, "Hyundai Veloster: Sporty compact curated with emotion, imagination," 13 Sep. 2019 This Friday the 13th full moon won’t technically reach peak illumination until 12:32 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday, but for all practical purposes is considered full Friday night., "Coming this Friday night: the spookiest full moon in 13 years, and the first Friday the 13th full moon since January 2006.," 12 Sep. 2019 This Friday the 13th full moon won’t technically reach peak illumination until 12:32 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday, but for all practical purposes is considered full Friday night. Matthew Cappucci, Twin Cities, "Coming this Friday night: The first full moon on Friday the 13th in 13 years," 12 Sep. 2019 Although late summer is peak season for shelters across the Midwest, the Anti-Cruelty Society is able to take in animals from disasters because of its extensive foster network. Marie Fazio,, "Chicago shelter takes in animals from South Carolina displaced by Hurricane Dorian," 5 Sep. 2019 Stowell told the committee that deployment of the first peak-hour engines would be delayed until July 2020. San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego adding six new fire stations to close coverage gaps," 1 Sep. 2019 Following a cooler, wetter spring, the organic Ela Family Farms in Hotchkiss is just reaching its peak peach harvest, a little later in the summer. Josie Sexton, The Know, "From peach foie gras to boozy slushies, 20 ways to eat peaches at Denver restaurants right now," 28 Aug. 2019 This tiny portion of the Lower Peninsula (near the Indiana border) will be at peak season for this week. Elissa Robinson, Detroit Free Press, "Week by week prediction: When Michigan's fall colors will peak in 2019," 28 Aug. 2019

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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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

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).


something of little or no value

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