Q: I’m editing our company newsletter and the intro letter from our manager promises an issue “guaranteed to peek your interest.” Something tells me that’s wrong, and the phrase should be “peak your interest,” as in the peak of a mountain. Which is correct?
A: Both you and your manager have fallen victim to one of the trickiest homonym trios in the English language. Words that sound alike are always a headache, but peek, peak and pique are particularly bothersome. All are pronounced “peek” but the one you want is the one with the weird spelling — pique.
It comes from the French word piquer (pronounced peek-AY), and it means to excite or upset someone. Since your issue will excite the interest of readers, pique is the word you want. At the same time, if you are annoyed by the writing in the introduction, you might “feel piqued at the misuse in the wording.” And if you were really angry, you might storm off “in a fit of pique.”
Peek is to take a quick look at something (often secretly), or the act of taking that look.
Peak is a high point (as in the peak of a mountain), the highest level of achievement, or the act of rising to a high height or level of achievement if you’re using the word as a verb.
If you need a way to remember, this cat’s interest seems to have been piqued as she peeks around the peak. And thanks for piquing our interest with your question!
How well do you know your peaks (peeks) (piques)?
- Weird David Lynch TV drama — Twin ____s.
- Advance movie view — Sneak ____
- A hairy phenomenon — Widow’s ____
- 1997 Pierce Brosnan movie — Dante’s ____
- Soccer star and Shakira boyfriend — Gerard _____.
BONUS: Did you know actress Veronica Lake popularized a one-eye hairdo known as the peek-a-boo in the 1940s?
Need help writing or editing for your website or blog? Call Kim Landry at 484-829-0021 or email [email protected].