'Peaked' or 'Peeked' or 'Piqued': What's the Difference?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on February 28, 2023

Wondering what the difference is between ‘peaked,’ ‘peeked,’ and ‘piqued’? We’ll answer that in this article, plus teach you how to use them all in a sentence correctly.

In short, the difference between these words is:

  • ‘Peaked’ is the past tense of ‘peak,’ which means the top or pinnacle of something.
  • ‘Peeked’ is the past tense of ‘peek,’ and it means a cheeky glance or peep.
  • ‘Piqued’ is the past tense of ‘pique,’ and it means to arouse curiosity or to make someone angry.

These three words are all homophones, which means they sound the same but mean different things. Therefore, you should never use them interchangeably.

‘Peak,’ ‘Peek,’ or ‘Pique’ – Simple Tips to Remember the Difference

Trying to remember the difference between ‘peak,’ ‘peek,’ and ‘pique’ is that the first word means the highest point (like the top of a mountain), the second means a cheeky glance, and the last means to arouse curiosity or upset someone.

  • To remember ‘peak,’ think about a mountain peak.
  • To remember ‘peek,’ think about how it’s spelled similarly to ‘cheeky’ with the two ‘e’s.’
  • To remember 'pique' by the process of elimination.

Homophones can be confusing, but with these tips to remember, you should have no problem recalling which word means what.

What’s the Difference Between ‘Piqued’ and ‘Peeked’ and ‘Peaked’? 

The difference between the three words is that the first means to arouse curiosity or get someone angry.

  • ‘Peeked’ means to look or sneak a look

For example:

  • You might say you peeked into your mom’s closet to see what your Christmas presents would be.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Peaked,’ ‘Peeked’ and ‘Piqued’

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of ‘peaked’ is:

  • Having a peak or being pale and wan or sickly.

It’s the verb you’d use if you were talking about reaching a maximum or coming to the highest point of something.

The same dictionary defines ‘peeked’ as:

  • To look furtively or to peer through a crack or hole or from a place of concealment.

It might also mean taking a brief look or glance.

Peek has to do with looking, especially quickly or through a small space. The word can be used as a noun or a verb.

'Piqued' is defined as:

  • To excite or arouse, especially by provocation, challenge, or rebuff. It could also mean pride or to irritate.

You might also hear it referred to as resentment.

Some synonyms of ‘piqued’ include:

  • Aggravate
  • Eat
  • Gall
  • Grip
  • Annoy
  • Bother
  • Frost
  • Grate
  • Burn (up)
  • Get
  • Itch
  • Irritate
  • Rasp


  • Offense
  • Umbrage
  • Resentment
  • Offense
  • Peeve

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘Peeked,’ ‘Peeked’ and ‘Piqued’

Are you curious about how to pronounce these words? Here’s a short guide.

  • To pronounce all these words correctly here’s the phonetic spelling: PEEKT

How to Use ‘Peeked,’ ‘Peaked’ and ‘Piqued’ in a Sentence

Now that we know what all of these words mean and how to pronounce them let’s see some examples of how to use them in a sentence correctly.


  • I feel like I peaked in my thirties. What more should I do with my life?
  • I think our organization has peaked. There’s nowhere to go but down.
  • Maria peaked her eyebrows and teased her lashes before she left for the party.
  • My career peaked in the early 2000s, so now I’m retired, but I still run a business on the side. Damn, where did the time go?


  • My dad doesn’t know that I peeked at the birthday gifts he paid for that he hid in his closet.
  • I peeked into my brother’s room to see what he was doing, but he was just playing video games.
  • Every Christmas, me and my siblings would always peek at the gifts our parents hid in their closets.
  • I didn’t know my daughter peeked out of her room at night to see if I was asleep before sneaking into the kitchen to steal cookies.


  • Sherry piqued my interest with the new project she’s working on. I hope I can jump in and help her with it.
  • Everyone’s interest was piqued by the new quirky intern. She dressed like she was going to a punk rock concert.
  • There’s a new club on campus that piqued my interest. It’s a club for romance novel lovers.
  • The cookie sheets were left on the kitchen counter, which piqued my interest since no one was supposed to be home.

Final Advice on ‘Peaked,’ ‘Peaked’ and ‘Piqued’

To recap, we learned that the difference between these words is:

  • ‘Peaked’ is the past tense of ‘peak,’ which means the top or pinnacle of something.
  • ‘Peeked’ is the past tense of ‘peek,’ and it means a cheeky glance or peep.
  • ‘Piqued’ is the past tense of ‘pique,’ and it means to arouse curiosity or to make someone angry.

Therefore, you should avoid using these words interchangeably because they’re homophones, and they all mean different things.

If you ever get stuck on anything, feel free to come back and review what you learned. You can also browse our other content. We’ve got a whole library of content on confusing words and phrases people often have trouble with when learning the language. Go check it out anytime.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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