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

Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Another batch of items, including logo statuettes and neon Twitter bird light electric display are more Twitter-specific and may pique the interest of dedicated fans. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, 16 Jan. 2023 The appearance of an unfamiliar object is a surefire way to pique a cat’s interest, perhaps even enough to try to ensconce themselves in it. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 12 May 2021 Those sentiments might pique German suspicions that U.S. officials are using national security misgivings as a pretext to promote American gas exports. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, 18 Mar. 2021 To pique the curiosity of name-brand acts, possibly, and most alluringly, the likes of Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Jim Riccioli, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 17 Sep. 2020 Baehr said Teneo’s website is crafted so as not to pique the interest of Senate staffers who might look up the group if one of its members mentions Teneo during a confirmation process for a judgeship or a cabinet position. Andy Kroll, ProPublica, 9 Mar. 2023 If warm, autumnal colors don’t pique your interest, opt for a jewel-toned palette. Bebe Howorth, ELLE Decor, 16 Nov. 2022 Greenwood hoped that her film would pique viewers’ curiosity about Montserrat and tempt them to visit—she’d even intended to premiere it on the island with the goal of luring some of those rock-star icons to return for a nostalgic look. Mark Ellwood, Robb Report, 1 Oct. 2022 Sims said those phrases could pique the interest of federal law enforcement. Peter Hermann, Washington Post, 3 Sep. 2022
At the pique of the industrial age, about 50 to 60 years ago, businesses differentiated between strategic customers and regular ones. Milind Katti, Forbes, 8 June 2022 And in 1985, at the pique of their popularity, life-sized Cabbage Patch dolls roamed the party. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, 1 Dec. 2020 And his pique has manifested in other ways as well. New York Times, 24 Apr. 2021 Lamia is motivated by grief; her children, fathered by Zeus, are killed by Hera, Zeus’ wife, in yet another mythological pique of rage. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, 31 Mar. 2021 The president remained out of sight all day on Wednesday, venting his pique now and then on social media. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, 5 Nov. 2020 If logic, creativity and a little DNA pique your interest, be sure to check out Nanocrafter. Carolyn Graybeal, Discover Magazine, 22 Feb. 2015 Their willingness to see the country fractured and destroyed through political pique goes to the heart of celebrity distrust and disrespect. Armond White, National Review, 12 Aug. 2022 Great powers rarely make fundamental changes of national strategy based on pique, and Mrs. Pelosi’s visit was no greater provocation than her predecessor Newt Gingrich’s visit in 1997. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, 8 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pique.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 26 Mar. 2023.

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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