peek

verb
\ 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

peek

noun

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

Verb

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.

Noun

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

Rather than having both audiences and Truman realize at the same time his life is a TV show, De Palma’s version would have been more voyeuristic, with audiences peeking behind the curtain from minute one. Julie Miller, HWD, "Twenty Years Later, Everything Is The Truman Show," 5 June 2018 And the centerpiece is what’s happening on the plate, with new audiences now able to more easily peek their heads in and catch a glimpse of the show. Kelly Dobkin, Bon Appetit, "The Well-Crafted Kitchen: Inside the New Momofuku Ko Bar," 5 June 2018 Viewers learn the backstories of the lead characters and peek into the shady past of the tyrannical Appleyard. T.l. Stanley, latimes.com, "'Game of Thrones' star Natalie Dormer heads Amazon's twisty mystery 'Picnic At Hanging Rock'," 24 May 2018 Mount Dora, a town often compared to a New England village, is equally picturesque at 1,000 feet, its white church steeples peeking through an emerald-green tree canopy. Nancy Moreland, The Seattle Times, "Ready for takeoff: A nervous flyer takes on America’s Seaplane City," 3 July 2018 Thomas, for a happy hour soda on the patio, then strolling over to the fort grounds and peeking into the windows of the soon-to-be redone officers’ homes on a bluff overlooking the Ohio. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Morning Line: After Annapolis killings, Doc asks what the hell is wrong with us," 2 July 2018 Phelps posted her experience on Instagram two days ago, along with a photo of herself with the cup from a pump peeking out of a sequined top. Meredith Cohn, baltimoresun.com, "Nicole Phelps takes up the cause of normalizing breastfeeding and pumping in public," 25 May 2018 Guys with big cowboy hats and big belt buckles stand around, small Constitutions peeking out of shirt pockets. Leah Sottile, Longreads, "Bundyville Chapter Three: A Clan Not to Cross," 17 May 2018 Cardi poses with her baby bump towards the camera and her leg peeking out of dramatic dress’s high slit. Jillian Ruffo, PEOPLE.com, "See Kendall Jenner's Photographs of Kim Kardashian, Cardi B and More Stars at the 2018 Met Gala," 15 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

And at Trooping the Colour 2017, George and Charlotte both took a peek outside the window before their appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, "Prince George and Princess Charlotte Had the Best Time Watching the RAF Flyover From a Palace Window," 10 July 2018 But do take a peek at these sickening photos of the queens on the red carpet, from Miss Vanjie to Asia O'Hara to Kalorie Karbdashian Williams. Joey Guerra, Houston Chronicle, "Check out these fierce photos from the 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Season 10 finale," 9 June 2018 Take a sneak peek at the upcoming season of programs at the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center in Sanford at its special preview on June 30. Matthew J. Palm, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Wayne Densch offers preview of coming attractions in 'Season Showcase'," 7 June 2018 From Oprah Winfrey’s blooming blossoms to Amal Clooney’s timeless look, Doria Ragland’s sweet beret and Camilla Parker Bowles’ over-the-top number, take a peek at some of the greatest hats and fascinators spotted at Windsor Castle on May 19. Janine Puhak, Fox News, "Royal wedding 2018: Best hats and fascinators," 19 May 2018 So if you are headed downtown to take a peek, here are some traffic tips to keep in mind. Lori Aratani, Washington Post, "Cherry Blossom run means Sunday road closures around the Tidal Basin," 6 Apr. 2018 Also, take a peek inside the circa-1845 Cape Florida Lighthouse (South Florida’s oldest structure) and look to the horizon for a glimpse of Stiltsville, a collection of historic homes that appear to float atop Biscayne Bay. Paul Rubio, Condé Nast Traveler, "The 15 Best Beaches in Florida," 4 Apr. 2018 Fans of The National got another sneak peek at new music on Tuesday (July 10). Alessandra Rincón, Billboard, "The National Perform New Songs 'Quiet Light' and 'So Far So Fast' in Croatia: Watch," 12 July 2018 Mae All Over Lace Padded Bandeau Bralette: Perfect for low-cut tops and muscle tanks, this bandeau in floral lace keeps a peek-a-boo moment very tasteful. Susan Brickell, Health.com, "The Bra and Underwear Sale You Won't Want to Miss on Amazon Tomorrow," 12 July 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

Verb

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

Noun

1636, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for peek

Verb

Middle English piken

Noun

see peek entry 1

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Learn More about peek

Dictionary Entries near peek

Peebles

Pee Dee

peegee hydrangea

peek

peekaboo

peel

Peel

Phrases Related to peek

sneak peek

steal a peek/look

Statistics for peek

Last Updated

8 Sep 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

peek

verb

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

peek

verb
\ 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.

peek

noun

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).

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