peek

1 of 2

verb

peeked; peeking; peeks

intransitive verb

1
a
: 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 windowJ. M. Flagler
peeked out at us from behind the curtainsWinifred Bambrick
2
: to take a brief look : glance
peeked ahead to the next chapter to see what would happen

peek

2 of 2

noun

1
: a furtive look
2
: a brief look : glance

Did you know?

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Wyze camera breach may have let 13,000 customers peek into others' homes Kate Gibson Kate Gibson is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch in New York. Kate Gibson, CBS News, 23 Feb. 2024 From the harsh climates of the Arctic tundra to the lush jungles of South America and the uncharted depths of the ocean, the series unveils the natural world's most captivating wonders across 11 episodes, each providing a behind-the-scenes peek into its production challenges. Briana Richert, James Mercadante, EW.com, 19 Feb. 2024 This can be accomplished by walking down creeks and peeking into ponds or by floating creeks and rivers in a kayak or canoe, hugging the insides of turns, and hoping to float close enough to get good shots. Phil Bourjaily, Field & Stream, 15 Feb. 2024 She’s also seen wearing a cropped white tee, black low-rise pants and a black G-string that peeks above her pants. Charna Flam, Peoplemag, 2 Feb. 2024 Richie Grainge riffed on traditional suiting in a black off-the-shoulder jacket, left unbuttoned at the bottom to allow her stomach to ever so slightly peek out. Hannah Jackson, Vogue, 2 Feb. 2024 Eyes peeking out from a sewer grate, putting googly eyes on a fire hydrant. Vanessa Infanzon, Charlotte Observer, 31 Jan. 2024 If there was ever a game where the Avs might get caught peeking ahead to their forthcoming extended break, a contest against an extremely motivated, desperate team was it. Corey Masisak, The Denver Post, 27 Jan. 2024 Margulis looked up from the pot over the fire, her hair just peeking out from her white chef’s hat and her chef’s coat resting easy on her shoulders. Lisa Donovan, New York Times, 7 Feb. 2024
Noun
The Brandywine resident’s son tried out a different winning strategy on his most recent lottery run by taking a peek at someone else’s Pick 5 ticket, according to a Feb. 22 Maryland Lottery news release. Makiya Seminera, Miami Herald, 22 Feb. 2024 On the first full-squad workout of camp, Melvin had other commitments Monday than catching a peek of a pitcher who almost certainly won’t make the Opening Day roster. Evan Webeck, The Mercury News, 19 Feb. 2024 Kay Cannon's first shot at directing takes a fresh spin on teen flicks, mixing outrageous situations and raunchy humor with heartfelt peeks into how grow closer together even during the most troubling of moments. Travis Bean, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 Take a peek at these 37 gems that are guaranteed to light up your little one’s eyes. Mia Meltzer, Rolling Stone, 6 Feb. 2024 Well, zowie: Subscribers can take a peek at the answer key. Sam Corbin, New York Times, 4 Feb. 2024 Ashley Graham is giving her followers a peek at her closet that's currently undergoing construction. Staff Author, Peoplemag, 2 Feb. 2024 When Brandon Miller took a peek at the incoming number programmed into his phone, noticing the unexpected caller’s name pop up, he was temporarily taken aback. Roderick Boone, Charlotte Observer, 2 Feb. 2024 In the latest issue of Billboard, Swift offered a peek into her business acumen, sharing some advice for anyone looking to follow in her trailblazing path. Joe Lynch, Billboard, 31 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'peek.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb and Noun

Middle English piken

First Known Use

Verb

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

Noun

1636, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near peek

Cite this Entry

“Peek.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/peek. Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

peek

verb
ˈpēk
1
: to look cautiously or briefly
2
: to look through a crack or hole or from a hiding place
peek noun

More from Merriam-Webster on peek

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