Judy Hagey

Nonfiction Editor ~ Freelance Writer

A Peek at a Troublesome Threesome

writingtipsHomonyms trip up many a writer. You know, those pairs of words that sound alike but have different spellings and often vastly different meanings. Occasionally they come in threes—like to, two, and too.

Today we’re tackling another threesome: peek, peak, and pique.

Have I piqued your interest? Good. That means you’re curious.

The verb form of pique means to excite or arouse interest or anger especially by a challenge or rebuff. Or to irritate, aggravate, or to rouse resentment.

Amanda was piqued when Allen was late for his tax appointment.

Pique can also be used as a noun—an offense or a transient feeling of wounded vanity.

In a fit of pique, 15-year-old Zach slammed his books on the table.

The word seems to be familiar to many writers, but the spelling—not so much. I often see piqued written as peeked or peaked—both of which have only one meaning:

                Peek–a brief look, glance, glimpse

                Peak–top, apex, or summit. Mountains have peaks, so do careers or performances.

                When Maria reached the peak of the mountain, she peeked into a beautiful estate below.

So, if you’re a writer, it’s best to learn your peeks and peaks so you don’t pique your editor.

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