Column: Don’t peak too early


Commentary by Curtis Honeycutt

I think I peaked around age 25, which was longer ago now than I’d like to admit.

When I was a boy, I peeked at my birthday presents because I couldn’t wait until the big day.

Understanding grammar has always piqued my interest.

Today, we’re discussing peek, peak and pique, three words that sound alike but have different meanings. That makes them homophones, which are words that sound alike but have different meanings and spellings.

Peek means to look or glance quickly, often when you’re not supposed to be doing so. Our neighbors across the street are remodeling their house right now, so I like to peek in the windows to check on their progress. If you want to remember how to use “peek” correctly, just imagine the two lowercase e’s are eyes peering mischievously.

Peak means to literally or figuratively reach the highest point of something. In a literal sense, this could be a mountain. The explorers reached the peak of Mt. Everest this morning. In the figurative sense, a peak is the highest level someone reaches or achieves. The movie reached its peak when the supposedly unsinkable luxury ship smashed into the iceberg. To remember peak, picture the “a” in “peak” as a capital “A,” thus giving you a visual reminder of a mountain shape.

Pique means to excite or arouse attention or to irritate. I especially like using pique as a synonym for irritate because I’m a younger brother; in a way, I was born to pique my older sister. Even though we’re adults, I still try my best to pique my sister by sending her birthday cards that either make obnoxious noises, or I fill them with confetti, or both. When pique means to excite someone’s attention, it’s almost like dangling a proverbial carrot in front of someone to intentionally stir curiosity. The trailer for the new “Space Wars” movie really piqued my interest.

It’s neither good to peak too early nor to peek too early; either scenario leads to certain disappointment. Although, be warned: If you peek at your birthday presents before your actual birthday, you’re likely to pique the person who gave you the gift in the first place.