I’m neither an English major nor an accomplished writer, but that minor lack of qualifications won’t keep me from my self-appointed role of Mr. Language Man.
I read a lot of blogs and news items on the web. I subscribe to several magazines and even a couple of newspapers. (Gasp! How archaic!) I am always disappointed when the authors/writers/editors, even the professionals (of which there are fewer and fewer), can’t be bothered to understand the basic tool of their trade – language.
My most recent vexation – and I have many, but let’s keep our focus – is peek vs. peak vs. pique. Three perfectly good words, all of which mean different things but sound the same (that’s a three-way homophone). For good measure, there is piqué, which looks similar to pique but is pronounced differently (pee-KAY). I can’t tell you how often in the past week I have seen the three words misused, but whenever I peek at one of these manglings, my pique reaches a peak. Thus this post from Mr. Language Man.
– To glance quickly.
– To look or peer furtively, as from a place of concealment.
– To be only partially visible, as if peering or emerging from hiding: Tiny crocuses peeked through the snow.
– A brief or furtive look.
– A tapering, projecting point; a pointed extremity: the peak of a cap; the peak of a roof.
– The pointed summit of a mountain.
– The mountain itself.
– The point of a beard.
– A widow’s peak.
– The point of greatest development, value, or intensity: a novel written at the peak of the writer’s career.
– Physics The highest value attained by a varying quantity: a peak in current.
– The narrow portion of a ship’s hull at the bow or stern.
– The upper after corner of a fore-and-aft sail.
– The outermost end of a gaff.
– To raise (a gaff) above the horizontal.
– To bring to a maximum of development, value, or intensity.
– To be formed into a peak or peaks: Beat the egg whites until they peak.
– To achieve a maximum of development, value, or intensity: Sales tend to peak just before the holidays.
– Approaching or constituting the maximum: working at peak efficiency.
– A state of vexation caused by a perceived slight or indignity; a feeling of wounded pride.
– To cause to feel resentment or indignation.
– To provoke; arouse: The portrait piqued her curiosity.
– To pride (oneself): He piqued himself on his stylish attire.
And the other piqué (noun):
– A tightly woven fabric with various raised patterns, produced especially by a double warp.
So, there you have everything you ever wanted to know about peek/peak/pique/piqué but were afraid to ask. If you are ever afraid to ask, by the way, you might try just looking stuff up:
Grammarama (Kraken) – an online reference
Until next time, when Mr. Language Man takes on affect and effect . . .