I have more than one pet peeve about writing. The misuse of the words peaked, peeked, and piqued is one of them. Other than the fact that they are homophones, I don’t understand why perfectly capable writers and editors miss these every now and then.
…is the past tense of the verb to peak. The noun version of the word looks like this:
or like this:
The use of the verb version of the word, which means to reach a maximum, can be demonstrated in the following sentences:
Mt. Everest peaks at 29,028 feet above sea level.
Our expenditures peaked in November at the number 60.
…on the other hand, is best demonstrated with this picture:
He is peeking around his book to take a peek at you. There is no way in hell he is peaking. He just doesn’t look all that excited yet. If he were reading an erotic romance book, and if he were peeking at you while you were getting undressed, then yeah, he might be peaking, too—or rather, his excitement might be peaking—but in my experience, men in the peak of their excitement and arousal have a much less placid look on their face. Trust me. He’s just peeking.
…however, isn’t quite as easy to illustrate. To pique is to arouse or excite a range of feelings within a person, from anger and resentment to curiosity and interest. I am piqued, for instance, about the misuse of these three words. How people can mess these up has piqued my curiosity.
That said, there are slight, subtle differences between the noun version of the word and the verb version of the word.
This girl, here, has pique:
This girl, here, has her curiosity piqued:
Can you spot the difference? Here’s a clue.
In the first one, at the peak of her pique, she throws the box at you and throws a tantrum.
In the second one, when her piqued curiosity later peaks, she peeks in the box and finds it’s only a bunch of socks and underwear, which leaves her in a fit of pique … and THEN she throws the box at you and throws a tantrum.
Okay, so not much difference at all, but there you go—peaked, peeked, and piqued.
Don’t go messing them up, or I’ll be piqued. And not in a good way.Share this post: