\ ˈpēk How to pronounce peek (audio) \
peeked; peeking; peeks

Essential Meaning of peek

1 : to look at someone or something secretly especially from a hidden place A little girl peeked around the corner of the chair at him. She peeked [=peered] through a hole in the fence. Close your eyes, and no peeking!
2 : to look at something briefly She peeked ahead to the next chapter to see what happened next. He allowed some of his friends to peek at his next painting.
3 : to show slightly : to be slightly visible

Full 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

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 Charlie and sea grape cascade down the walls, while lights twinkle like fireflies and a set of bookshelves peek through the greenery. Kristin Scharkey, Sunset Magazine, 11 Jan. 2022 Original plaster, brick and paint layered from over the years and previous owners peek through the walls. Emily Deletter, The Enquirer, 31 Dec. 2021 On Sunday, the sunshine will peek back through — the Bay Area can expect few more clouds, though not as dense as Saturday. Danielle Echeverria, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 Dec. 2021 And when baking, do not peek into the oven, Rubado says. Washington Post, 16 Nov. 2021 The new butterfly house will include a room where guests can peek in to watch the insects emerge from their cocoons. Megan Rodriguez, San Antonio Express-News, 20 Oct. 2021 Heavy snow boots and decorative sneakers peek from below their cassocks: trudging reality in contrast with celestial aspiration. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 18 Dec. 2021 McConnell's decision to follow that example suggests his party has settled on playing peek-a-boo with voters as a long-term political tactic. Joel Mathis, The Week, 3 Dec. 2021 To one side a pod of harbor seals on a particularly large ice sheet—one member, just to the side, seemed to be playing peek-a-boo, rising to eye level in the water and sinking below the surface again. Bailey Berg, Condé Nast Traveler, 27 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Although the database is still more than a year out, the public can get a sneak peek of what to expect. Emerald Elitou, Essence, 12 Jan. 2022 Its theme was Century 21 and the exhibits were a peek into the future of life and technology in the 21st century. Lois Alter Mark, Forbes, 25 Oct. 2021 That photo is a rare peek at the Hollywood side of making the show; the rest of the book forgoes images from red carpet events, award shows and industry parties for pulling back the curtain on set. Danielle Turchiano, Variety, 18 Oct. 2021 There's a sneak peek of the cover in the Netflix trailer, but a release date has yet to be announced. Joey Skladany,, 27 July 2021 The Urbanaut is a peek into Mini’s crystal ball, showcasing a future of electric lounge-style autonomous pods. Caleb Miller, Car and Driver, 1 July 2021 This is the second sneak peek the shop has had, following one last month for Independent Bookstore Day. Deborah Martin, San Antonio Express-News, 20 May 2021 Customers could buy merchandise and get a sneak peek at exclusive material from the West Coast rapper via an app, thanks to Sandu's role as chief of technology. Corein Carter, Forbes, 29 Dec. 2021 Because of the many windows on the front of the building, visitors can even get a peek at some decorations inside. Carol Kovach, cleveland, 20 Dec. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near peek

peegee hydrangea



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Statistics for peek

Last Updated

17 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Peek.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for peek


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on peek

Nglish: Translation of peek for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of peek for Arabic Speakers


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