\ 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 That’s the time that traffic peaks before trailing off sharply, returning to normal levels by the evening, according to a Google analysis., "By the numbers - The Boston Globe," 26 Nov. 2019 On May 1, 2015, military helicopters flew north over the mountain peaks of rural Jalisco, a western state known for its oceanside town of Puerto Vallarta., "'I thought I was going to die': Officer hunting El Mencho becomes his prey in rocket attack," 25 Nov. 2019 Party-hearty daredevils jump from the peaks, snorkeling is sublime and vendors dish up big plates of yummy island food. Melanie Refffes, USA TODAY, "Shh! These are the best secret beaches in the Caribbean," 25 Nov. 2019 At that time, Wilson was a star in three places: The New Yorker, Playboy, and National Lampoon, delivering covers, multi-panel series, and single-panel gags to those majestic peaks of the cartoon-publishing landscape. Michael Maslin, The New Yorker, "The Beautifully Macabre Cartoons of Gahan Wilson," 23 Nov. 2019 In its time, the steam engine was the peak of high-tech – the 1800s version of the Boeing 747 or the space shuttle. CBS News, "Passengers on scenic railroad in American West "see the world as it existed 140 years ago"," 23 Nov. 2019 Traffic peaks on Wednesday evening with some travel times taking four times longer than usual, the news release said. Tom Mcghee, The Denver Post, "AAA Colorado expects Coloradans to set a Thanksgiving travel record this year," 22 Nov. 2019 To the west, the peaks and ridges of the Bradshaw Mountains and Castle Creek Wilderness in Prescott National Forest rise high above Black Canyon and endless strips of open rangeland. Mare Czinar, azcentral, "Don't be put off by the burn scar. This Agua Fria River overlook hike is well worth it," 21 Nov. 2019 The sneak peak at the jerseys brought out the fashion critics on Twitter, who pointed out that the jerseys were, well, not particularly exciting. Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press, "Check out the Detroit Pistons' new jerseys (as the wait for teal's return continues)," 20 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Since buying Lucasfilm in 2012, Disney’s movies in a galaxy far, far away peaked early at the box office with Force Awakens and sunk to their lowest level with the most recent entry, 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story. James Hibberd,, "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," 19 Nov. 2019 The outbreak appears to have started in March and peaked in late summer but there is often a lag in reporting. Mike Stobbe,, "Vaping illnesses in US still rising, though at slower pace," 15 Nov. 2019 Unfortunately for Prince Edward, the youngest child of Queen Elizabeth II, the name Edward peaked in popularity in the year 200o and has been falling ever since. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "Royal Baby Names Are the Perfect Blend of Trendy and Timeless," 12 Nov. 2019 Chinese student enrollment peaked in 2015 but has since fallen by 44%, according to the Board of Regents. USA TODAY, "Soccer seismology, lobster drop, battle ax defense: News from around our 50 states," 12 Nov. 2019 Disney+ is peaking and Google is sneaking, but first, a cartoon about podcasting while working. Wired, "Disney+ Is Here, Google Has Your Health Data, and More News," 12 Nov. 2019 Temperatures so far Friday have peaked in the mid-40s — and that was around midnight. Scott Dance,, "Maryland weather: Wintry air brings some flurries Friday; more cold, but iffy snow chances, forecast next week," 8 Nov. 2019 Child enrollment in Ohio Medicaid and CHIP peaked in April 2015 with 1.3 million kids and then declined. Laura Hancock, cleveland, "Number of uninsured Ohio kids increases by 28 percent – 7th highest jump in U.S.," 30 Oct. 2019 Incivek sales peaked at $1.1 billion in 2012 but declined just as quickly. Adam Feuerstein, STAT, "‘A game-changer’: How Vertex delivered on cystic fibrosis," 23 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In the metro Milwaukee area peak wind gusts on Wednesday could be in the 40 to 45 mph range, said Miller. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Panhandle hook storm could drop up to a foot of snow on parts of Wisconsin, snarling Thanksgiving and deer hunting travel plans," 25 Nov. 2019 In the case of I-25 southbound from Broadway to C-470, the agency is likely to make the shoulder an express lane during peak drive time because there is no room to widen the road. Krista Kafer, The Denver Post, "Kafer: HOV designation is crowding Colorado’s drivers," 21 Nov. 2019 This is peak wildfire season, and unusually strong wind gusts, which can bring down transmission lines, have much of the Bay Area on edge. Daniel Wolfe, Quartz, "California’s wildfires are forcing mandatory evacuations and massive blackouts," 27 Oct. 2019 As Dorian moved closer to Jacksonville and Daytona Beach, those counties experienced peak gusts of 44 mph. Ron Hurtibise,, "23 percent of Hurricane Dorian insurance claims came from South Florida," 9 Oct. 2019 The Full Beaver Moon will reach its peak fullness on Tuesday, November 12, at 8:34 A.M. EST, which means that good viewing times will include Monday night and after sunset on Tuesday the 12th. Andrea Wurzburger,, "There's a Full Beaver Moon in November: How To See The Full Moon Tonight," 11 Nov. 2019 Tell us about the peak moment of your closing show? Katie Bain, Billboard, "Stream the Closing Set of Claptone's 2019 Pacha Ibiza Residency: Exclusive," 5 Nov. 2019 That’s just over 7% of the company’s peak valuation of $1.1 billion around three years ago. Itika Sharma Punit, Quartz India, "Shopclues’ sale for a pittance lets out Indian e-commerce’s open secret: distress," 1 Nov. 2019 Independent economist Brad Keithley said the price decline is even more important than the production decline because while production has a chance to rebound during the peak winter months, forecasts indicate prices will remain low. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, "As oil prices and production dip, state expects $200 million shortfall," 27 Oct. 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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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

29 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Peak.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 5 December 2019.

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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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