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pin·​na·​cle ˈpi-ni-kəl How to pronounce pinnacle (audio)
: an upright architectural member generally ending in a small spire and used especially in Gothic construction to give weight especially to a buttress
: a structure or formation suggesting a pinnacle
specifically : a lofty peak
: the highest point of development or achievement : acme

Illustration of pinnacle

Illustration of pinnacle
  • P pinnacle 1


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

transitive verb

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

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.

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

Examples of pinnacle in a Sentence

Noun a singer who has reached the pinnacle of success
Recent Examples on the Web
From the strategic brilliance of coaches to the unmatched abilities of players and the influential roles of a coach/broadcaster, an esteemed owner and a dynasty-building executive, each finalist embodies the pinnacle of basketball excellence. Gary Bedore, Kansas City Star, 17 Feb. 2024 At the peak of the Cold War, the charismatic diplomat Dag Hammarskjöld has reached the pinnacle of his power, serving as Secretary- General of the United Nations. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 15 Feb. 2024 This set epitomizes the pinnacle of American numismatic beauty and historical significance, aligning perfectly with the company's mission to offer unparalleled hard assets to its global clients. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 6 Feb. 2024 Top Management: Reaching the pinnacle of their career, CMAs in top management roles, including Chief Financial Officers or Chief Executive Officers, can earn upwards of $195,000. Bryce Welker, Miami Herald, 2 Feb. 2024 Missy Elliott, was the pinnacle of style for Howard. Robyn Mowatt, Essence, 31 Jan. 2024 Long gone are the days when a car phone was the pinnacle of wealth, now replaced by Zoom calls in even the most affordable of new cars. Paolo Confino, Fortune Europe, 30 Jan. 2024 Find it on Amazon Improve Your Skincare Routine WIth This 4-in-1 Wand Experience the pinnacle of skincare technology with the latest and most popular 4-in-1 Wand. Kat Romero, Rolling Stone, 31 Jan. 2024 Apollo 17’s Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt became the 11th and 12th men to walk on the moon, closing out an era that has remained NASA’s pinnacle. Marcia Dunn, Fortune, 8 Jan. 2024
Mark Margolis, the longtime character actor whose career pinnacled with unforgettable arcs on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, has died at the age of 83. Daniel Kreps, Rolling Stone, 4 Aug. 2023 One father, two sons, all coaching their teams to pinnacle moments of their seasons. Matt Goul, cleveland, 19 Mar. 2021 At the start of 2015, Hollar's weight pinnacled at 678. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, 4 Feb. 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pinnacle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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


Dictionary Entries Near pinnacle

Cite this Entry

“Pinnacle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a slender tower generally coming to a point at the top
: a high pointed peak
: the highest point of achievement or development

More from Merriam-Webster on pinnacle

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