Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Did that Pique, Peek or Peak your Interest?: Fun with Words

I was motivated to write this post because I used this term in one of the tabs above (Take a look and see if any of these books pique your interest under the Buy from Langley tab). Let me tell you, I never considered the pressure I was putting myself under when I decided to blog about writing. I better be darn careful not to make glaring mistakes or my credibility is shot. Yikes. Anyway, this got me thinking about common mistakes that good writers make. Using pique, peek or peak is one such mistake.

As a stand alone word most people understand the difference between pique, peek and peak. But when used in the context of: that _____ my interest, the incorrect word is often used. In fact,  I've seen seasoned writers stumble over this.

It's easy to understand why. Many people use the word peak because their intended meaning is that caught my attention at a high point. Indeed, peak is a high point but it's not the correct choice in this context.

Pique is a French word.  It is a transitive verb meaning to cause a feeling of interest, curiosity, or excitement in somebody. To stimulate, prick or provoke. To arouse a feeling as in interest or curiosity.

Peak is a mountain top, the highest point.

Peek is to look quickly.

The correct term is: that piques my interest.

Source: Encarta Dictionary: English (North American)


21 comments:

  1. I realize this isn't part of the A to Z Challenge, which is what brought me here, but I am pretty sure I have made this mistake in the past and I am having a major d'oh moment.

    Good luck with the Challenge!

    ReplyDelete
  2. If pique can mean "cause a feeling of interest", then is it not a tautology if you use is in the sentence "that piqued my interest". By using the word pique, we already know it is your interest that has been stimulated.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hello - just came across this post now.

    The verb "piquer" in French actually means to sting or to prick, so there is your explanation

    ReplyDelete
  4. When referring to penultimate result of interest or of a waning interest, a proper use could be, "my interest peaked at (point "X")"

    ReplyDelete
  5. Misusing "peak" for "pique" is a huge pet peeve of mine. Ugh. Haven't these people seen that correct use in print?? Sheesh. Thanks for this explanation.

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  8. Is it ok to say "prick your interest"?

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