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Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Stuart's Daily Word Spot: Peak or pique?

The MatterhornImage via Wikipedia
Peak or pique?
Peak: verb – mope, shrink (in terms of movement) or slink; become droopy in health or spirits, waste away; look sickly or emaciated, as in peak and pine; stick up or rise in a peak; achieve maximum value, activity, or condition; maintain a level after reaching a peak; bring to a head or maximum; accentuate.

Pique: verb – provoke someone to action or emotion by arousing jealousy or other negative emotion; arouse someone's curiosity or interest; wound someone's pride or irritate, offend or make resentful; congratulate oneself on something, take a pride in.

A pair of homonyms, both of which have individual different meanings, and which don' match each other in meaning.

In most writing, you'd probably get these right if you remember that to 'peak' is to reach the highest point, as in a mountain peak. If you 'pique' someone, however, you're likely piss them off; the matching 'I' should help.

'In the peak of condition, Geraldine peaked as she ascended the Matterhorn and reached the peak before her companions.' (I may have overdone it with the 'peaks' here.)

'Gordon was a little piqued when Martha, in rather acid tones, remarked that he was not the most splendid manifestation of the male she had ever come across.'

7 September 1992 My daughter, Kate was born, bringing great joy into my life. She’s off to University at the weekend, to study photography; clever girl.

7 September 1936 Another extinction: the last Tasmanian tiger died.

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