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 pinnacle (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 Their approaches, though, are a gulf apart, with each quarterback at the pinnacle of styles that define the modern offensive era. New York Times, "Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes: A Battle of the Ages," 5 Feb. 2021 Sand Hill Road firm Kleiner Perkins, then at the pinnacle of the venture capital business, was crucial. Owen Thomas, San Francisco Chronicle, "The long shadow of Jeff Bezos," 3 Feb. 2021 There was Irving, a portrait of the glory years, when the Cavs were at the pinnacle of the NBA. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Cavaliers’ past meets present and future as Collin Sexton bests Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets 147-135 in 2OT," 20 Jan. 2021 Often the seeds of decline are planted at a time when a great power seems to be at the pinnacle of its control and influence. Andrew A. Michta, National Review, "This Time, There May Not Be a Do-Over," 17 Jan. 2021 At the pinnacle of power, Trump's leadership during the pandemic has been erratic. Star Tribune, "Vaccines and masks: Biden plan aims to break pandemic cycle," 13 Jan. 2021 Days later, another monolith was discovered at the pinnacle of a trail in Atascadero, California, but it was later dismantled by a group of young men, city officials said. NBC News, "Gingerbread monolith delights San Francisco on Christmas Day," 27 Dec. 2020 Most brands at the pinnacle of the luxury pyramid have made a mission of chasing younger and more-diverse consumers by dabbling in streetwear or athleisure or by partnering with the most au courant hipster that social media can uncover. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, "The creative mind behind Valentino believes we all need beauty now — even if we can’t afford it.," 16 Nov. 2020 High-stakes, big-boy, major college basketball means Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak and his athletic director, Mark Harlan, should be working to get as close to the pinnacle as possible, which means a Final Four and a national championship. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Red All Over: The NCAA Transfer Portal is there to be used, and Kyle Whittingham has taken advantage," 21 Jan. 2021 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

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

2 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pinnacle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for pinnacle



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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