Please Let Your Interest Be “Piqued”

By Maeve Maddox

A reader received an email whose writer expressed this earnest wish:

I hope this peeks your interest in advertising with us.

This misspelling of pique is widespread:

GND’s are here to connect you with things, we hope, will make you laugh. OR Peek your interest. —ad for production company

This book is fascinating and the author infuses the story with mystery and peaks your interest throughout. Amazon book review

Now it’s time to choose what peeks your interest and develop your own personal spin on it. That’s the first step to being successful out here, so I hope you take this message seriously. —tips for website development

I hope the interview below peaks your interest.  —blogger

If you have never fished for a Peacock bass, we hope this peaks your interest enough to take your first venture –fishing site

Please look through these groups when you have a chance to see if there is something that peaks your interest. —group networking site

I hope my website peaks your interest, clears up any questions you have, and motivates you to become my patient. —a dentist’s site

I hope the following peeks your interest in continuing education. —diving site

Alright, lets face facts. Everybody loves a discount. It doesnt matter what product peeks your interest at a given moment, discount shopping is a favorite pass time of many. —business site (Yep, this one is a veritable goldmine of misuse: Alright, doesnt, pass time)

pique [pēk] : verb To stimulate or provoke (a person) to action, esp. by arousing jealousy, etc.; to arouse (a feeling, esp. curiosity or interest).

It’s when pique is used in the sense of stimulating interest that it is most frequently misspelled as “peek” or “peak.”

Other meanings of pique as a verb:

pique: transitive verb. To wound the pride of, irritate, or offend; to make resentful. Ex. She deliberately tried to pique him by referring to his old girlfriend.

pique: transitive verb used reflexively. To take pride in or congratulate oneself on. Ex. She piques herself on her good taste in home furnishings.

As a noun pique can have these meanings:

A quarrel or feeling of enmity between two or more people, countries, etc.; ill feeling, animosity.

(A feeling of) anger, irritation, or resentment, resulting from a slight or injury, esp. to one’s pride; offence taken. Now esp. in “fit of pique.” Ex. She quit the club in a fit of pique.

Pique comes from the French verb piquer, “to sting, to bite.”

Amateur book reviewers can probably continue misspelling pique with impunity. People trying to sell their services or a product, however, may want to learn to spell it correctly.

Click here to get access to 800+ interactive grammar exercises!


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11 Responses to “Please Let Your Interest Be “Piqued””

  • Moe

    I can admit it, for years I did this. A few years ago a nice librarian pointed it out. I was horrified. The weird thing is as soon as I saw the word I immediately recognized it, knew I had read it numerous times and understood it but for some reason my mind refused to write it.

  • patrick dicaprio

    i have one that annoys me, but i do not even know if i am right! I see this all the time and got an email with it today: “beck and call.” isn’t it/should it be “beckon call?”

  • Deborah H

    Remember also “pique” the fabric. It’s not smooth; it’s puckered, picked, or ticked!

  • Maeve

    Deborah H,
    Yes, the type of fabric is spelled with the same letters, but it is pronounced with a long a sound at the end and is often spelled with an accent mark: piqué.

  • Deborah H

    I did know that, but I posted before I finished saying what I wanted to say (no recall button!). I hate it when do that.

    But clarify for me—Do the British ever say pique (pee kay), but mean:

    “(A feeling of) anger, irritation, or resentment, resulting from a slight or injury, esp. to one’s pride; offence taken. Now esp. in “fit of pique.” Ex. She quit the club in a fit of pique.”

    I have this memory of hearing it in a movie.

  • Mari

    This happens to be one of my pet peeves. I blurf (another portmanteau word) through lots of rubber stamping/scrapbook blogs and see this particular no-no a lot. It always makes me cringe….
    “Her interest piqued, she climbed to the peak to have a peek at the other side.”

  • Paul Rodgers

    I’ve been in Britain 26 years and I’ve never heard anyone here say pee-kay. If they did, I would assume that they were mocking someone — probably the French. My grandmother used to refer to a “fox’s pass” and the battle of “Wipers”.

  • Peter

    “beck and call.” isn’t it/should it be “beckon call?”

    No. “Beck and call” is correct.

    If they did, I would assume that they were mocking someone — probably the French.

    Or Mrs Bucket

  • Mrs. Bucket

    That’s “Boo-Shay”!

  • Karen

    Let’s not forget “mute” point, rather than moot point.

  • Jason

    In South Africa it seems that the majority of people think that “first come, first serve” is correct.

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