\ 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 At 6:30 am on Saturday, March 13, 2004, with the sun just starting to peek over the hills to the east, the Grand Challenge was finally starting. Alex Davies, Wired, "The Autonomous-Car Chaos of the 2004 Darpa Grand Challenge," 6 Jan. 2021 Sunday will be mostly cloudy, but a bit of sunshine will peek through the clouds throughout the day. Mike Rose, cleveland, "Chance of snow, then sunshine: Northeast Ohio’s weekend weather forecast," 3 Dec. 2020 Tools are still a good bargain bet at Lowe’s, and peek into the corners of the big box for local offseason discounts, like patio furniture. Nerd Wallet, oregonlive, "Lowe’s Black Friday 2020 deals roundup: Top appliances, smart home tech, holiday decorations among best sale items," 24 Nov. 2020 The only weather concern this weekend will be a batch of rain and snow showers early Sunday, but the sun should peek out from behind the clouds in the afternoon. Star Tribune, "Sunny Saturday - Rain/Snow Mix Possible Sunday Morning," 20 Nov. 2020 Travel across the galaxy with Ewine van Dishoeck to peek in on a stellar nursery. Scientific American, "What are the Ingredients of a Baby Solar System?," 10 Sep. 2018 To peek into empty stores And talk to a lone pigeon. Charles Simic, The New Yorker, "New York," 7 Dec. 2020 This would have allowed an outside committee to peek at the efficacy results when there were 32 cases of symptomatic Covid. Matthew Herper, STAT, "How key decisions slowed FDA’s review of a Covid-19 vaccine — but also gave it important data," 4 Dec. 2020 The five couldn’t even peek in to count the boxes on display. Maria Halkias, Dallas News, "Here’s what it took to score a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X in Dallas on Black Friday," 27 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun An Instagram post shows a sneak peek of Sloth's first performance, which includes props like dumbbells and a treadmill. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Who Is Sloth on 'The Masked Dancer'? Fans Are So Sure They Know the Answer," 7 Jan. 2021 Tuesday, January 5 Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist: Watch a sneak peek of season two, below. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "7 TV Shows and Movies to Help You Kick Off the New Year," 3 Jan. 2021 Starting with two new offerings from Netflix and moving on to a curated list of what’s playing when, here is a peek inside the holiday-TV snow globe. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Holiday TV: Singing with Dolly Parton, decorating with ‘Mr. Christmas’ and more," 27 Nov. 2020 Sarah Mower is the ultimate peek behind the curtain of the brand. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Sarah Burton Discusses the History and Future of Alexander McQueen at Forces of Fashion," 16 Nov. 2020 The interview was also a peek into the couple’s happy new life in Santa Barbara, California, six months after officially stepping back as working members of the British royal family. Omid Scobie, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan Tell Britain It’s Time to End Structural Racism," 1 Oct. 2020 Since no trailer for The 355 has even been released yet, this will really be a sneak peek into the film. Christian Holub,, "EW's New York Comic Con 2020 panels to feature Walking Dead, Black horror, women of The 355," 1 Oct. 2020 And that's really what this show is: a peek behind culture and world events. Christy Piña, Woman's Day, "The History of Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper's Friendship Will Make You Love Them Even More," 27 Sep. 2020 The Hereford Mappa Mundi, created around 1300 in England, is a fascinating peek into the medieval imagination. Meg Neal, Popular Mechanics, "Why Maps Are Civilization’s Greatest Tool," 6 Aug. 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

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Peek.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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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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Comments on peek

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