My latest grammar pet peeve: Peek, peak and pique

by DaniGirl on February 13, 2012 · 7 comments

in My inner geek, Rants and rambles

Dear Internet Friends,

I love you dearly, but you make me want to bang my head on the desk when you confuse the homonyms peek, peak and pique.

I would have thought the difference between peek and peak should be fairly straightforward, but when I saw them interchanged for the third time in a single day recently, I knew I had to write this post.

verb: 1. to look furtively. 2. to take a brief look.
noun: 1. a furtive look. 2. a brief look.

verb to cause to come to a peak, point or maximum
noun: the highest level or greatest degree (see here for more definitions)
adjective: of, relating to or being a period of maximum intensity or activity (ie peak business hours)

Every time you misuse one of these spellings for the other, an angel loses its wings.

On the other hand, “pique” is a bit more of an obsure term and I may be able to forgive some misuse. But not after today!

noun: a transient feeling of wounded vanity; resentment. (ie “He slammed the door in a fit of pique.”)
verb: to excite or arouse, especially by provocation, challenge or rebuff.

Here’s a quick quiz for you, with the most common incorrect usage I’ve seen:

“Wow, that’s interesting, you’ve really ____________ my curiousity now!”
(a) peeked
(b) peaked
(c) piqued

You picked (c), right? Right! Now go out and pique somebody’s interest while you’re in peak grammar form. Stay tuned for my next rant on “wallah!” versus “voilà!”

Okay, grammar geeks, now it’s your turn: which grammar errors are curdling your milk lately?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Josée February 13, 2012 at 8:22 pm

I cringe everytime I see quotations marks around a phrase that is clearly not a quote. People seem to think quotation marks should be used everywhere these days. I’ve even seen them used on business cards around the name of the business! “Stop abusing quotations marks!” 🙂

2 K February 13, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Definitely an apostrophe s for the plural. Drives me crazy! Or should I say it drive’s me crazy. (cringe cringe cringe)

3 angie February 14, 2012 at 1:15 am

I must admit, I’m not the best when it comes to grammer. I wish I had a publisher. Or someone who can correct me all the time. I love your site. Found you I think from ninjamatics. I’d love it if you came over and checked out my blog (it isn’t fun though at all).

4 littleredhen February 14, 2012 at 11:52 am

Those misplaced apostrophes drive me nuts.

5 Christina @ According To C February 14, 2012 at 1:13 pm

The classics still bite my bottom: the infamous trio there, their and they’re, and the sassy duo your and you’re.

6 Valerie February 14, 2012 at 8:31 pm

for me, it’s people using bring instead of take. If you’re coming, you can bring something, but if you’re going, you must take it, unless I’m right beside you coming along.

And something I can’t seem to nag out of my kids: allowed doing something instead of allowed TO DO it.

7 CoCo February 16, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I have many but the one that annoys me the most is misuse of to, too, two…….and effect, affect and impact .

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