pin·​na·​cle | \ ˈpi-ni-kəl How to pronounce pinnacle (audio) \

Definition of pinnacle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an upright architectural member generally ending in a small spire and used especially in Gothic construction to give weight especially to a buttress
2 : a structure or formation suggesting a pinnacle specifically : a lofty peak
3 : the highest point of development or achievement : acme


pinnacled; pinnacling\ ˈpi-​ni-​k(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce pinnacling (audio) \

Definition of pinnacle (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to surmount with a pinnacle
2 : to raise or rear on a pinnacle

Illustration of pinnacle

Illustration of pinnacle


P pinnacle 1

In the meaning defined above

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Choose the Right Synonym for pinnacle


summit, peak, pinnacle, climax, apex, acme, culmination mean the highest point attained or attainable. summit implies the topmost level attainable. at the summit of the Victorian social scene peak suggests the highest among other high points. an artist working at the peak of her powers pinnacle suggests a dizzying and often insecure height. the pinnacle of worldly success climax implies the highest point in an ascending series. the war was the climax to a series of hostile actions apex implies the point where all ascending lines converge. the apex of Dutch culture acme implies a level of quality representing the perfection of a thing. a statue that was once deemed the acme of beauty culmination suggests the outcome of a growth or development representing an attained objective. the culmination of years of effort

Did You Know?


Pinnacle is one of several words that aspire to both literal and figurative heights. Others include summit, peak,climax,apex,acme, and culmination. All of these can refer to the highest point of a mountain or structure, or the highest point attained or attainable over a person's lifetime, career, etc. When referring to part of a building, pinnacle describes a projection on top of a tower (as on a Gothic cathedral). The word derives via Anglo-French from Late Latin pinnaculum, meaning "small wing," a diminutive of pinna, meaning "wing or battlement." When used figuratively, pinnacle sometimes implies a dizzying and insecure height, such as that brought on by unexpected fame.

Examples of pinnacle in a Sentence

Noun a singer who has reached the pinnacle of success
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Baldwin Wallace University -- Local students stand among a distinguished group of students at Baldwin Wallace University that has reached BW's pinnacle of academic honor society achievement with induction into the Dayton C. Miller Honor Society. Sam Boyer, cleveland, "College Corner, Medina County," 26 Dec. 2019 The message is that the people near the pinnacle of an organizational chart have more sophisticated needs and find, or require, more meaning in their work than rank-and-file employees scrambling to fulfill more basic needs like safety and shelter. Lila Maclellan, Quartz at Work, "What if the foundational theories about how to run a company have been corrupted?," 9 Dec. 2019 Sidelock actions, in which the lockwork of the gun is fitted to a removable sideplate, are considered the pinnacle of fine double-gun design. Phil Bourjaily, Field & Stream, "8 Great Shotguns You’ve Never Heard Of," 6 Dec. 2019 Inside, what was once the pinnacle of aspirational luxury in New York has been defiled by bankruptcy. Kim Bhasin,, "It’s the most desperate time of the year — for retailers," 6 Dec. 2019 The theme that follows is a miracle of beauty, and perhaps the pinnacle of Schubert’s achievement — to the extent that the remaining three movements of the Quintet are something of a denouement. Daniel Gelernter, National Review, "The Irresistible Beauty of Schubert," 2 Nov. 2019 Last week, the Illini reached the pinnacle of the Smith era knocking off then-No. Akeem Glaspie, Indianapolis Star, "Former IndyStar Mr. football Brandon Peters healthy and happy to be playing QB at Illinois," 26 Oct. 2019 Enjoy a picnic lunch beneath the sharp pinnacles of the Aiguille du Midi mountain, first climbed in 1818. National Geographic, "Swiss and French Alps Expedition: Mountain Adventure," 15 Sep. 2019 Students, some barely 16 years old, showcase the pinnacle of athleticism and talent in the roles of players, cheerleaders and members of the bands and dance teams. Jennie Bolton, Houston Chronicle, "Football quiz: Can you name all the mascots for Clear Creek ISD teams?," 23 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb At the start of 2015, Hollar's weight pinnacled at 678. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "Surgery helped him lose almost 500 pounds. Now insurance won't help remove excess skin.," 4 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pinnacle.' 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 pinnacle


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pinnacle


Middle English pinacle, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin pinnaculum small wing, gable, from Latin pinna wing, battlement

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Time Traveler for pinnacle

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

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Last Updated

15 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pinnacle.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 27 January 2020.

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More Definitions for pinnacle


How to pronounce pinnacle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pinnacle

: a high mountain top
: the best or most important part of something : the point of greatest success or achievement
: a tower on the roof of a building that comes to a narrow point at the top


pin·​na·​cle | \ ˈpi-nə-kəl How to pronounce pinnacle (audio) \

Kids Definition of pinnacle

1 : the peak of a mountain
2 : the highest point of development or achievement Winning the award was the pinnacle of her career.
3 : a slender tower generally coming to a narrow point at the top

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Comments on pinnacle

What made you want to look up pinnacle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that suddenly gains wealth or power

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