Is It Peaked, Peeked Or Piqued My Interest? Curious?

Peaked Peeked Or Piqued My Interest

You might use the set expression, piqued my interest.

But I’m sure you have seen different verbs before the word interest when you’re reading.

The problem, of course, is that the words piqued, peaked, and peeked are homonyms. When we’re speaking, these words don’t cause us any problems because they sound the same.

However, in writing, it’s better to do a quick vocabulary and grammar check. Always make sure you’re using the correct word before you publish your writing.

Why is piqued my interest correct?

There are a lot of confusing words in English, and the word piqued is a strange one.

The word’s origin is from the mid 16th century.

It derives from the French verb piquer, which means to prick or irritate.

These two meanings still apply to the word piqued, but now one is for the noun and the other for the verb.

When you use pique as a noun, it has the meaning of a feeling or sense of irritation or displeasure resulting from an insult that affects one’s pride.

The common expression is, he left in a fit of pique.

But pique as a verb is totally different.

It means to arouse interest or curiosity in something.

So you would say, my curiosity was piqued.

That’s why we collocate the verb pique with curiosity and interest.

But you can also use expressions that have a similar meaning to piqued my interest.

aroused my curiosity

stirred my interest

caught my attention

drew my attention

captured my imagination

attracted my attention

captured my interest

got my attention


Why peaked and peeked are incorrect

You often see the expression using these two verbs instead of piqued.

In fact, I noticed this error while I was reading, and it piqued my interest enough to write this short article.

Peaked my interest is wrong. The word peak as a noun means the top point of a mountain or a similarly shaped object.

Whip egg whites to stiff peaks.

The verb peak means to reach the highest point either literally or metaphorically.

His career peaked in the early seventies.

The word peek is more straightforward. The verb and noun both have the meaning of taking a quick look or glance at something.

I took a quick peek through the curtains to see what the neighbors were doing.

Therefore, neither peak nor peek work in the expression. You can’t reach the top of your interest or look at it quickly.

Other misused words you occasionally see in the expression are it picked my interest, it ticked my interest, or it pecked my interest.

These are not correct either. But it is understandable if a writer doesn’t take the time to check for the right word choice.


Always check your homonym use

English homonyms or homophones need extra attention when you’re writing.

It’s easy to get a set expression wrong if you’re deep in your thoughts and concentrating on writing your story, article, or blog post.

But readers notice.

People will be quick to criticize you, especially if you mistype or misuse words in set expressions.

You need to keep your mistakes to a bare/bear minimum.

Can you bear/bare with me for a few minutes?

It is a moot/mute point.

He pored over/poured over the manuscript looking for errors.

He waited with bated/baited breath.

To me, it’s a matter of principle/principal.

He walked past/passed me without saying a word.

The only way to be sure you’re correct is to refer to a good dictionary and thesaurus.

Most computers and word processors have these two tools installed by default.

But writers have a vast selection of other excellent free resources available online today.

Taking an extra minute to check your use of set expressions is always good insurance.

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology.

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3 thoughts on “Is It Peaked, Peeked Or Piqued My Interest? Curious?

  • Avatar for Jerry Kahn
    November 11, 2021 at 11:28 pm

    re: “The verb peak means to reach the highest point either literally or metaphorically.
    He reached the peak of his career in the seventies.”

    You cited ‘peak’ as a verb, but then used it as a noun in your example.

  • Avatar for Bobby Pepitone
    July 20, 2021 at 6:54 am

    Thank you so much your explanations are wonderful and easily understood and I truly appreciate your thoroughness in explaining every facet in the use of the word it was very helpful thanks again!/


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