\ ˈpēk How to pronounce peek (audio) \
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 outpeeked 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

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

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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 Though the young vines are just barely peeking out, the place is teeming with life: The family keep pigs, goats, sheep, even a bull, and agave plants line the pathways. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, "Will the coronavirus destroy smallest wineries?," 11 May 2020 On the cemetery road were 10 cars, parked with their windows open, passengers peeking out to watch. Los Angeles Times, "A family was told they couldn’t be at their parents’ burial. Then Fresno County changed its mind," 17 Apr. 2020 The two removable, fake drumstick Jibbitz charms were made by Crocs and the iconic Colonel Sanders image can be seen peeking up from the heel stabilizer. oregonlive, "Chicken-scented Crocs and other weird stuff you don’t need now but will make you laugh," 10 Apr. 2020 Standing by the chain-link fence, peeking in, may not be for everyone. Steve Rubenstein,, "This just in: Social-distance cycling OK during coronavirus pandemic," 22 Mar. 2020 The shot shows a long hallway with 19 hands painted different colors peeking out on both sides. Allie Gemmill, Teen Vogue, "Taylor Swift Directed Her New Music Video for "The Man"," 26 Feb. 2020 So what’s the best way to fold a square page so that the maximum amount of area peeks out the side of your notebook? Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Of Course You Can Use Math to Perfectly Fold a Notebook Page Into a Bookmark," 10 Feb. 2020 Some species will only grow for a year or two following fire, then patiently wait for the next ecological tantrum before peeking back out. Heather Arndt Anderson, Sunset Magazine, "The West Had a Fiery Summer and Fall. How Will Plants Rebound This Spring?," 31 Jan. 2020 On a mixed-use stretch of road, Chris Wright Evans’ Reflectors peeks above the roof of Elfer Mufflers. Darryl Ratcliff, Dallas News, "The Modern in Fort Worth offers an art show from the comfort of your car," 30 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The feeling in baseball in recent years has been that the DH was an inevitability in the NL once the owners and players hammer out the next collective bargaining agreement, and this could provide a sneak peek. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "With team president David Stearns on hand, Brewers continue their outreach during pandemic," 14 May 2020 Thursday night’s first round of the NFL Draft gave us a sneak peek at war rooms around the league, but football fans couldn’t help but notice Mike Vrabel’s Titans setup. Mark Heim |, al, "NFL Draft: Mike Vrabel’s Titans war room goes viral, thanks to a mullet, Frozone, kid in ‘bathroom’," 24 Apr. 2020 In a sneak peek at Thursday’s episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, the 64-year-old family matriarch happily indulges in several glasses of wine while celebrating boyfriend Corey Gamble‘s 39th birthday at a winery in Napa. Eric Todisco,, "KUWTK: Kris Jenner Gets Tipsy During a Winery Trip for Boyfriend Corey Gamble's Birthday," 23 Apr. 2020 In fact, she's worn unreleased products without anyone knowing, giving fans a sneak peek at products before they were even announced. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Rihanna’s Daily Makeup Routine Includes Three Fenty Beauty Products," 21 Jan. 2020 The Cambridges are celebrating the festive season with a sneak peek at their family album. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Just Shared a Previously Unseen Snap of the Cambridge Kids," 25 Dec. 2019 Many visitors have come to Times Square specifically to see the piece, including the occasional Wiley superfan, and curious Virginians wanting a sneak peek at the statue that will soon be in their backyard. Nancy Coleman, New York Times, "They Keep Times Square in Order, and a Statue Front and Center," 29 Nov. 2019 In a story that seems to offer a peek at organizational dysfunction, The Information reports that some leaders of Google’s Pixel phone team have recently left. Fortune, "What took Uber so long to protect drivers and riders?," 14 May 2020 Neil Simon Theater noted that ticket holders ready for the July 2020 sneak peek will receive an automatic credit card refund. Taiia Smart Young, Essence, "Michael Jackson Musical 'MJ' Gets Pushed Back to 2021," 14 May 2020

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

Verb and Noun

Middle English piken

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Time Traveler for peek

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for peek

Last Updated

18 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Peek.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for peek


How to pronounce peek (audio)

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 How to pronounce peek (audio) \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on peek

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for peek

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with peek

Spanish Central: Translation of peek

Nglish: Translation of peek for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of peek for Arabic Speakers

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