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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
After a day full of scenic family photo ops in front of the famous crimson pinnacles and hoodoos, make childhood dreams come true by sleeping under the stars in a glamping tent at Under Canvas Bryce Canyon. Lindsay Cohn, Parents, 13 May 2024 The Television Academy has long been considered the pinnacle of creativity. Neal Mohan, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for pinnacle 

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 19 May. 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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