\ˈpēk \
peeked; peeking; peeks

Definition of peek 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to look furtively A little girl peeked around the corner of the chair at him.

b : to peer through a crack or hole or from a place of concealment often used with in or out peeked in through the window— J. M. Flaglerpeeked out at us from behind the curtains— Winifred Bambrick

2 : to take a brief look : glance peeked ahead to the next chapter to see what would happen



Definition of peek (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a furtive look

2 : a brief look : glance

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Synonyms & Antonyms for peek

Synonyms: Verb

browse, dip, glance, glimpse, glint, skim

Synonyms: Noun

cast, eye, gander, glance, glimpse, look, peep, regard, sight, view

Antonyms: Verb

gaze, stare

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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 peek in a Sentence


A little girl peeked around the corner of the chair at him. Close your eyes, and no peeking! She peeked ahead to the next chapter to see what happened next. He allowed some of his friends to peek at his next painting.


took a peek at her Christmas gift hidden in the closet
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Now those forests are mostly green, with the crowns of red spruce peeking out of the canopy and saplings thriving below. Lisa Rathke, The Christian Science Monitor, "Pollution regulations decrease acid rain, spur red spruce rebound," 11 July 2018 Beauty junkies get the opportunity to peek behind the curtain of one of the biggest names in fashion at this free pop-up experience. Brittany Martin, Los Angeles Magazine, "The Best Things to Do in L.A. This Week," 26 Feb. 2018 The Phoenix Mercury are giving fans a new way to peek behind-the-scenes into the lives of players on and off the court. Atreya Verma, azcentral, "Phoenix Mercury launch documentary called 'The Chase'," 18 June 2018 The next day, Lugdon peeked out her window to look for 25-lb. Kelli Bender,, "Curious Dog Finds Abandoned Baby Moose, Immediately Decides It's His Best Friend," 12 June 2018 Little by little, the light will start to peek through the storm clouds. Melissa Blake, Harper's BAZAAR, "To Kate Spade’s Daughter...From Someone Who Has Been There," 6 June 2018 Pike and Hill on Monday afternoon to peek his head out. Tessa Weinberg, kansascity, "As he pays more visits on lawmakers, Greitens again avoids reporters' questions | The Kansas City Star," 30 Apr. 2018 Using a particle accelerator called the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL), which produces bright X-rays, researchers have finally been able to peek through the newer ink to reveal Galen’s words. Julissa Treviño, Smithsonian, "High-Powered X-Rays Reveal What’s Beneath 11th-Century Religious Text," 15 Mar. 2018 Soccer presents buff, handsome men in an inherently hunky medium, sprinting across electric-green grass under dramatic stadium lighting with sweat glistening in their hair and sinewy muscles peeking out from behind flattering uniforms. Ted Berg, For The Win, "7 reasons even soccer haters can appreciate the World Cup," 13 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Those red numbers were rare as the day wore on, the sun and wind dried the greens, and even putts that were intended to be conservative rolled well past holes without as much as a peek into the cup. Sam Farmer,, "Shinnecock Hills plays tough, brings a crowd to the top of the U.S. Open leaderboard," 17 June 2018 No checking in with the office, no sneaking a peek at your inbox and no occasional Twitter browsing just in case Beyoncé drops another surprise album. David Pierce, WSJ, "The Secret to Disconnecting? Bring Back the ‘Away’ Message," 1 July 2018 For one day, architecture nerds of all stripes can sneak a peek. Marielle Wakim, Los Angeles Magazine, "Here Are the 12 Best Things to Do in L.A. in July," 26 June 2018 After some behind the scenes sneak peeks on Instagram from cast members, the first trailer for The Hate U Give has finally arrived. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, ""The Hate U Give," Starring Amandla Stenberg, Releases First Trailer," 25 June 2018 Owners, fans and even rival trainers stopped by to sneak a peek at the undefeated winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. New York Times, "Simply Perfect: Justify Wins the Triple Crown," 9 June 2018 Related stories from Sacramento Bee Getting sick: Fact vs. Fiction Kaiser to offer sneak peek at new downtown Sacramento medical offices A computer system failure hit Sutter Health. Cathie Anderson, sacbee, "These health providers are on the rise in California – but demand is so strong they can't keep pace | The Sacramento Bee," 25 May 2018 Even the most cynical might have snuck a peek at the horse drawn carriages, the guards with swords, or the opulent chapel. Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press, "Mitch Albom: Why are Americans so wild about a royal wedding?," 20 May 2018 In perhaps one of the sweetest moments of the day, best man Prince Harry snuck a peek behind them. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Prince Harry Broke With Tradition By Watching Meghan Markle Walk Down the Aisle," 19 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'peek.' 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 peek


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1636, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for peek


Middle English piken


see peek entry 1

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Learn More about peek

Dictionary Entries near peek


Pee Dee

peegee hydrangea





Statistics for peek

Last Updated

3 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for peek

The first known use of peek was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for peek



English Language Learners Definition of peek

: to look at someone or something secretly especially from a hidden place

: to look at something briefly

: to show slightly : to be slightly visible


\ˈpēk \
peeked; peeking

Kids Definition of peek

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to look in a sneaky or cautious way He peeked through the bushes.

2 : to take a quick glance I peeked at the next chapter.



Kids Definition of peek (Entry 2 of 2)

: a quick or sly look

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Comments on peek

What made you want to look up peek? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something that serves to warn or remind

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