Peek, Peak, And Pique – What’s the Difference?

Often Misused Words

The English language can be a bit tricky, especially with a lot of words that sound the same but have a different meaning. These words are known as homophones. Even though peek and pique share the same pronunciation, they both have their unique meaning and usage.


The word peek can be used as either a verb, adjective or a noun. The word Peak is by definition as reach the highest, the topmost point something, or a sharp or pointed end of something. For example:

  • There is a bird sitting on the peak of the barn roof.
  • The mountain peak is covered in snow.
  • Our web site saw its peak traffic today in the noon hour.


The word peek can be used as either a verb or a noun. Peek is by definition a quick glance or a look at something. It usually refers to a quick glance from a hidden location at something that shouldn’t be seen. For example, it’s often used when kids are trying to have a look at hidden Christmas presents:

  • The kid was able to peek at the presents since the door was slightly ajar.

It is often used in conjunction with the word “sneak”, in which cases it can be misspelled as “peak”.

  • Did you watch the sneak peek of that new TV show?

When used in verb form, peek is used without an object.

  • Ben peeked behind the curtain.


On the other hand, pique is a completely different word that can have multiple meanings. Pique originates from a French word that means to prick/sting someone. It’s most often used as a verb that means to excite or stimulate someone’s interest and curiosity. 

  • That new movie really piqued my curiosity. 

You will often see the sentence “pique a person’s curiosity” misspelled as “peek a person’s curiosity”. This is wrong, as you are piquing/exciting someone, not taking a quick glance at his interest.

The noun pique can also denote a feeling of irritation or resentment. 

John found himself in a pique after disliking the movie.

When used as a verb, it means to displease or anger someone. Whatever the case, pique can be used both with or without an object.

  • Out of pique, I can become a really unpleasant person.


Knowing the differences between these words is crucial to avoid misuse. While peek is connected with sight, pique refers to interest/displeasure, Peak is to be or achieve the top or tip of something.