Today's English lesson deals with the pet peeve of one of my readers: misuse of the words peek and peak. These words are, like many others, problems only for writers, not for speakers. They're homophones--that is, they sound exactly alike. Speakers can use the words interchangeably, and their listeners are responsible for hearing the right word. But writers must choose the correct word to use.
Peek is primarily a verb that means "to take a quick look." It can also be used as a noun that refers to the act of taking a quick look something.
Peek into the nursery and see if the baby is still asleep.
Take a peek at our darling new puppy!
Peak is a noun that means "the pointed top of a mountain." It can also refer to the highest point of something.
We want to visit Pike's Peak.
He is at the peak of his career.
Peak can also be used as verb that refers to reaching a high point or as an adjective describing a high point.
The writer's popularity peaked in the 1960's.
The hotel is always booked during the peak season.
Even when used as a verb or an adjective, peak refers to a high point. Perhaps it will help remember that the word you need here is the one with a high point in the spelling:
And to peek is something you do with your two eyes, just as there are two e's in the word.
Hope this helps you to keep these two words straight! As always, I'd be happy to answer any specific questions you may have. If there's a grammatical issue you'd like for me to write about, please let me know. If there's a particular question you'd like for me to answer right away, email me (richella (at) gmail (dot) com).