peek

verb
\ 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 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

Pennebaker once compared it to peeking through a window. Eric Harvey, Los Angeles Times, "Remember rock stars? With Bob Dylan and ‘Dont Look Back,’ D.A. Pennebaker invented the ideal," 4 Aug. 2019 The waterway winds through a slot canyon shaped by centuries of running water as sunlight peeks through the narrow opening high above. Melissa Yeager, azcentral, "Instagram-famous Kanarra Falls allows 150 hikers daily. Here's how to get a permit," 1 Aug. 2019 Her words are accompanied by a photo of sunlight peeking through clouds over a body of water. Tess Garcia, Teen Vogue, "Lea Michele and Other Former "Glee" Stars Shared Tributes to Cory Monteith," 14 July 2019 After Nadal wasted that chance, Federer earned two more match points — and failed to convert those, either, as his wife, Mirka, peeked through the fingers covering her face. Howard Fendrich, BostonGlobe.com, "Roger Federer outlasts Rafael Nadal, advances to Wimbledon men’s final," 12 July 2019 Her hair was dyed a deep black, with tones of green and purple peeking through. Jon Caramanica, New York Times, "Ariana Grande Was Updating Pop. Then Billie Eilish Came Along.," 21 June 2019 Chow tried to cast doubt on that eyewitness claim, arguing that the neighbor was peeking through curtains and did not keep a steady gaze on what was happening. Robert Salonga, The Mercury News, "Federal civil trial underway in 2016 San Jose police shooting," 18 June 2019 Several kids watched the game by peeking through the chain-link fence at the base of the right field wall, getting a view that included Matanuska Peak and puffy clouds beyond the field. Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News, "Batter up: Alaska Baseball League opens a new season," 7 June 2019 The tiny skiiers shooting past in the distance, the hints of emerald green already peeking through the early spring snow, the shock of rounding a corner and coming up yet another astounding vista of the jagged Alps! Kaitlin Menza, Town & Country, "Switzerland's Most Beautiful Train Line, the Glacier Express, Has a New Luxury Car," 29 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

An apartment near Massachusetts General Hospital seemed promising enough, until, during a brief peek into the bedroom, a Red Line train thundered by the window. Dugan Arnett, BostonGlobe.com, "Soul-crushing. Demoralizing. My tortured odyssey to find an apartment in Boston," 30 Aug. 2019 Follow @joannagaines for a behind-the-scenes look at it all, including a peek into our soon-to-be coffee shop. Selena Barrientos, House Beautiful, "You’ve Got to See How Joanna Gaines Created Magnolia Market’s New Fall Display," 30 Aug. 2019 Here, Utt opens up about her process for our peek inside the habits of a creative mastermind. Adam Rathe, Town & Country, "Before You Know It Director Hannah Pearl Utt On Learning From Failure," 30 Aug. 2019 When anything Fenty Beauty drops, there's a palpable buzz in the office, and the team swarms my desk in order to get a peek at the newest product Rihanna has blessed us with. Glamour, "7 Women Try Fenty Beauty's New Eyebrow Pencils," 29 Aug. 2019 Pints and Pros An occasional peek inside the ice chests of San Diego’s beernogscenti. Peter Rowe, San Diego Union-Tribune, "It’s wet hop beer season. Here’s where to find these annual gems," 29 Aug. 2019 So here’s a peek at the celebration everyone will be calling the season openers. Robert Avery, Houston Chronicle, "Pasadena ISD football programs knocking on door to victory milestone and the quest starts this weekend," 28 Aug. 2019 Based on the sneak peek NBC released ahead of the SNF open, their duet will be nothing short of incredible. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "Carrie Underwood’s 'Sunday Night Football' Theme Song Is Changing Again This Year," 28 Aug. 2019 But in a sneak peek at the interface for the new Disney+ streaming service, which debuts Nov. 12, Disney is relying on five distinct categories. Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY, "What to expect from Disney+ streaming service: Yes, it'll include Marvel and Star Wars," 23 Aug. 2019

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 and Noun

Middle English piken

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Learn More about peek

Dictionary Entries near peek

Peebles

Pee Dee

peegee hydrangea

peek

peekaboo

peel

Peel

Statistics for peek

Last Updated

22 Sep 2019

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 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.

peek

noun

Kids Definition of peek (Entry 2 of 2)

: a quick or sly look

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More from Merriam-Webster on peek

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with peek

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for peek

Spanish Central: Translation of peek

Nglish: Translation of peek for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of peek for Arabic Speakers

Comments on peek

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