Homophones are words that sound the same when spoken but have different meanings and spellings.
Peak, peek, and pique are examples of homophones. These three words are often used in business so let's clarify each one.
A peak is a topmost point, such as a mountain peak, or to reach that point:
We're at peak demand right now. We need more staff assigned.
A peek is a glance or a quick look. It has a fun, furtive innuendo. It can also mean to glance or to peer at. It's frequently paired with sneak — I took a sneak peek at next quarter's sales projections. The similar spelling of sneak and peak can lead you to use the incorrect peak. Correct use of peek:
Accountants peeked at the new software at the annual meeting.
Fashion week offers a sneak peek at pink running shoes.
Pique means to bring interest or excitement. You will sometimes see peek one's interest for pique one's interest, but don't be fooled. If you're piquing someone's interest, you are exciting their interest not taking a quick look at it:
The training proposal piqued my interest. Decisions will be more accurate if field staff can write shorter, more accurate reports on drilling productivity.
Dictionary.com offers spelling tips to help you remember the correct use of peak, peek, and pique.
- You have to reach to gain the peak.
- If you peer at something, you are peeking.
- And if you're piqued about something, there's usually a question in your mind about it.