Easily Confused Words: Peeked vs. Piqued

Peeked and piqued are homophones. They have an identical sound, but unique spellings and meanings. Spell-check doesn’t catch context errors like this one; it just checks that the user typed words that exist, and that those words are spelled correctly.

But “peek” means to look at something out of curiosity, usually it’s something concealed and not easy to view in plain sight. The curious party has to be snooping or prying into information, or things, that aren’t available for his/her current knowledge. For instance, tearing open the corner of gift-wrapped Christmas presents to see what’s inside, or looking into someone’s room or office because the door was left slightly open. “Peeked” is the past tense of peek.

Meanwhile, “pique” is a verb and a noun.

  • As a verb, it has multiple meanings. The most frequently used definition for the verb is to arouse interest, or to provoke attention. It can also mean to wound, or to create irritation.
  • As a noun, it means the state of being wounded or offended. Piqued is the past tense of the verb and noun forms of pique.

If it helps, usually you are peeking with your eyes because something piqued your mind’s interest.

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