1 of 3


piqued; piquing

transitive verb

: to excite or arouse especially by a provocation, challenge, or rebuff
sly remarks to pique their curiosity
: pride
he piques himself on his skill as a cook
: to arouse anger or resentment in : irritate
what piques linguistic conservativesT. H. Middleton


2 of 3

noun (1)

: a transient feeling of wounded vanity : resentment
a fit of pique


3 of 3

noun (2)

pi·​qué pi-ˈkā How to pronounce piqué (audio)
variants or pique
: a durable ribbed clothing fabric of cotton, rayon, or silk
: decoration of a tortoiseshell or ivory object with inlaid fragments of gold or silver
Choose the Right Synonym for pique


provoke, excite, stimulate, pique, quicken mean to arouse as if by pricking.

provoke directs attention to the response called forth.

my stories usually provoke laughter

excite implies a stirring up or moving profoundly.

news that excited anger and frustration

stimulate suggests a rousing out of lethargy, quiescence, or indifference.

stimulating conversation

pique suggests stimulating by mild irritation or challenge.

that remark piqued my interest

quicken implies beneficially stimulating and making active or lively.

the high salary quickened her desire to have the job

Noun (1)

offense, resentment, umbrage, pique, dudgeon, huff mean an emotional response to or an emotional state resulting from a slight or indignity.

offense implies hurt displeasure.

takes deep offense at racial slurs

resentment suggests lasting indignation or ill will.

harbored a lifelong resentment of his brother

umbrage may suggest hurt pride, resentment, or suspicion of another's motives.

took umbrage at the offer of advice

pique applies to a transient feeling of wounded vanity.

in a pique I foolishly declined the invitation

dudgeon suggests an angry fit of indignation.

stormed out of the meeting in high dudgeon

huff implies a peevish short-lived spell of anger usually at a petty cause.

in a huff he slammed the door

Examples of pique in a Sentence

Verb The first chorus … stirred my heart, the second piqued my sense of camp and the rest of them had me checking my watch. David Gates, Newsweek, 4 Mar. 2002
The posthumous revelation of Cheever's alcoholism, numerous infidelities and bisexuality may have piqued interest precisely because he presented himself so earnestly as the Man in the Brooks Brothers Suit. Mary Gordon, New York Times Book Review, 6 Oct. 1991
Some environmentalists worry that the natural behavior patterns of whales are being altered by tourist boats that pique the animals' curiosity. Jack McCallum, Sports Illustrated, 21 Aug. 1989
In case your interest is being piqued just an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny … bit, the Davis Cup will confuse you totally by calling every competition between contending teams a "tie." Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated, 11 Apr. 1988
Brightly colored objects pique a baby's interest. her seat companion piqued her by repeatedly poking her in the ribs Noun (1) And yet the democracy flourishing in Taiwan has been greeted in other parts of the Chinese-speaking world with a certain pique, and even with hostility. Ian Buruma, New Republic, 3 Apr. 2000
… when a beast that weighs 1,200 pounds goes crazy with some kind of stupid pique or jealousy in a room not much bigger than the handicapped stall in the Denver airport men's room, bad things will happen … Hunter S. Thompson, Rolling Stone, 15 Dec. 1994
He hit balls toward the umpire's chair and out of the stadium: he spat water toward the umpire on changeovers; and in still greater fits of pique, he broke three rackets. Jamie Diaz, Sports Illustrated, 2 Mar. 1987
After a moment of pique, the senator responded calmly to his accusers. He slammed the door in a fit of pique.
Recent Examples on the Web
Her mom actually told her to look into the Roc Nation School of Music after hearing a radio ad that piqued her interest. Michael Saponara, Billboard, 22 May 2024 Everything that has happened with their affiliation with Morgan obviously had to have piqued their interest. Chris Willman, Variety, 22 May 2024 Matt Wagner had read an article about Archway Homes in the newspaper, finding many things that piqued his interest. Archway Homes, Kansas City Star, 19 May 2024 Over the years, my interest had been piqued by stories from our friends Miranda and Gabriel, who’d lived in Portugal when their first child was an infant. Jessamine Chan, Travel + Leisure, 14 May 2024 When Starbucks announced a line of new bubble tea drinks for the summer, my curiosity was piqued. Endia Fontanez, The Arizona Republic, 8 May 2024 With a keen interest in city life, Chicago’s vast number of opportunities, venues and events piqued her interest. Britt Julious, Chicago Tribune, 7 May 2024 Trump’s advisors are piqued by Kennedy receiving attention from such outlets. Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2024 Rodríguez’s ability to spin a basketball atop a pen in his mouth led to his being cast in a series of commercials, which piqued his interest in acting and working in front of the camera. Max Gao, NBC News, 30 Apr. 2024
This season’s offerings: A sheer blouse in a geometric print for around $40, men’s solid color pique polo shirts in earthy tones (sky blue, mossy green) for around $30, and kids graphic T-shirts for around $15. Roxana Popescu, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 Apr. 2024 That, in turn, allowed Matt Gaetz to torpedo McCarthy’s speakership with the help of a handful of Republicans, largely out of personal pique. The Editors, National Review, 29 Mar. 2024 Again Kenta Maeda, solely for the pique in my curiosity. Daniel Kohn, SPIN, 27 Mar. 2024 And in a fit of pique, after being stopped in his car by the police doing 22.5 mph—way above the 12 mph limit at the time—Dunhill created mini binoculars, worn like spectacles, called Bobby Finders, after the nickname for English police of the period. Paul Croughton, Robb Report, 17 Feb. 2024 The faithful will remember that the rapper promised a concept double-album by this name, only pull it back, possibly in pique, after a version of it got leaked and bootlegged. Chris Willman, Variety, 24 Nov. 2023 And like any band with history they are bonded together with love and pique. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 7 Dec. 2023 Served with a pair of sauces, including a housemade pique infused with hot peppers, the lechón bowl is a bottomless pit of delights. Tim Carman, Washington Post, 5 Dec. 2023 The kidnap gang, diverted from its mission, blew up the nearby British Council offices in a fit of pique. Sam Kiley, CNN, 14 Oct. 2023

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

Word History


Verb and Noun (1)

French piquer, literally, to prick — more at pike

Noun (2)

French piqué, from past participle of piquer to prick, quilt

First Known Use


1669, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun (1)

1551, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1852, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pique was in 1551

Dictionary Entries Near pique

Cite this Entry

“Pique.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pique. Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 3 noun
: offense taken by one treated with disrespect or looked down upon
: a sudden feeling of resentment


2 of 3 verb
piqued; piquing
: to arouse anger or resentment in : irritate
especially : to offend by treating with disrespect
: excite sense 1, arouse
the package piqued my curiosity


3 of 3 noun
variants or pique
: a ribbed fabric of cotton, rayon, or silk

More from Merriam-Webster on pique

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