1

pinnacle

noun pin·na·cle \ ˈpi-ni-kəl \
Updated on: 14 Nov 2017

Definition of pinnacle

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

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Examples of pinnacle in a Sentence

  1. a singer who has reached the pinnacle of success

Recent Examples of pinnacle from the Web

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.

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.

Illustration of pinnacle

Origin and Etymology of pinnacle

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

Other Architecture Terms


2

pinnacle

verb

Definition of pinnacle

pinnacled; pinnacling play \ˈpi-ni-k(ə-)liŋ\
transitive verb
1 :to surmount with a pinnacle
2 :to raise or rear on a pinnacle

First Known Use of pinnacle

14th century

Other Architecture Terms


PINNACLE Defined for English Language Learners

pinnacle

noun

Definition of pinnacle for English Language Learners

  • : 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


PINNACLE Defined for Kids

pinnacle

noun pin·na·cle \ ˈpi-nə-kəl \

Definition of pinnacle for Students

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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