Homophones are problematic enough when we\u2019re dealing with two words that sound the same. But with \u201cpeak,\u201d \u201cpeek,\u201d and \u201cpique,\u201d we have a tricky homophonic threesome to deal with. But what do these words mean? And how can you avoid errors in your written work? Let us explain.\r\nPeak (Highest Point)\r\nA \u201cpeak\u201d is typically the highest point of something. This might be a physical high point, such as the highest point on a mountain:\r\nThe peak of Mount Everest is 29,029 feet above sea level.\r\nHowever, a \u201cpeak\u201d can also be the high point of an activity or quality:\r\nMost athletes achieve hit their peak between 26 and 28 years old.\r\nIn this case, we\u2019re talking about the age at which athletes perform best.\r\n\r\nAnd while \u201cpeak\u201d is often a noun, it can be used as a verb or an adjective:\r\nViewing figures peaked one hour into the program.\r\nI\u2019ve been in peak condition since I started working out.\r\nIn the first sentence above, we use \u201cpeak\u201d as a verb to mean \u201chit its highest point.\u201d In the second sentence, meanwhile, \u201cpeak\u201d is modifying the noun \u201ccondition\u201d (meaning \u201ctop condition\u201d).\r\n\r\n[caption id="attachment_5742" align="aligncenter" width="381"] Take a peek at this peak.[\/caption]\r\nPeek (A Quick or Secretive Glance)\r\n\u201cPeek\u201d can be either a verb or a noun. In either case, it refers to taking a quick or furtive look at something. Using it as a verb, for example, we might say:\r\nHe peeked around the corner to see if we were being followed.\r\nOr if we wanted to use it as a noun, we could say:\r\nI only took a peek at your email last night, but I\u2019ll read it in full tomorrow.\r\nWhether used as a verb or a noun, then, \u201cpeek\u201d is always related to looking at something briefly or from a hidden position.\r\nPique (Irritation or Interest)\r\n\u201cPique\u201d is a much rarer term than the other words here. However, it is used in some common phrases, so it is useful to know what it means. One of these phrases is \u201cfit of pique,\u201d which we use when someone does something suddenly because they are annoyed:\r\nHe left the restaurant in a fit of pique when the waiter laughed at him.\r\nOther than this, you may hear someone say that something \u201cpiqued\u201d their curiosity or interest. This sense of \u201cpique\u201d is a verb that means \u201carouse interest or curiosity\u201d:\r\nThe letter piqued my curiosity, so I wrote back straight away.\r\nOne common error is to write \u201cpeak my curiosity,\u201d as some people think it means \u201craise my curiosity to its highest point.\u201d And while this makes some sense, it is not the correct phrase!\r\nSummary: Peak, Peek, or Pique?\r\n\u201cPeak,\u201d \u201cpeek,\u201d and \u201cpique\u201d sound the same, but each has its own meaning:\r\n\r\n \tA peak is the highest point of something.\r\n \tTo peek is usually to take a quick or furtive look at something.\r\n \tPique can mean \u201cirritation\u201d or \u201carouse interest.\u201d It is most commonly used in phrases such as \u201ca fit of pique\u201d or \u201cto pique curiosity.\u201d\r\n\r\nMake sure not to confuse these terms! If you\u2019d like help ensuring your writing is error free, moreover, a bit of proofreading can go a long way.