Peeked, Peaked or Piqued?

Posted November 2, 2017 by Phyllis Helton in Writing Helps /

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I am often amazed at some of the errors that I find in books.  Mind you, I don’t expect authors to get things perfect the first time around, nor do I expect that they all have PhDs in English.  But when I spend money on a book, it seems like it is only right that the author has had someone else proof-read and edit the book for them who has an excellent grasp on the English language and can find errors and inconsistencies for them.

I receive lots of newsletters from authors.  Recently, an author confessed that she had been in such a hurry to release her book, that she had pushed back the release date more than once, so she decided that the editing she had done was sufficient.  She then got such a backlash from those who purchased early copies of the book that she ended up pulling the book until she could get edits back from her editor and then offered the new release for free for a few days to make it up to the readers who had complained.  I ended up getting the book while it was free and was astounded at the number of errors I still found in the book.  And that was me not even looking for them!

Authors, how good are your editors?  Are they doing you any favors, or are you still receiving reviews where people mention the errors in their books?  If so, consider finding another editor.  I have passed up on buying a book if there are reviews that mention excessive errors in the book, because I know I will get distracted by them as well, so you could be losing readers if you don’t get the editing help you need.  And don’t rush a release because you had set a specific date.  Make sure to spend the time you need so your hard-word will be appreciated as it should be.

This is one of the frequent errors I see. Or maybe just the one that stands out the most.  Which of the following sentences is correct? (I have seen each spelling for the homonym in books.)

a) It peeked my interest.

b) It peaked my interest.

c) It piqued my interest.

Choice a is out.  Peeked is the past tense for peek as in “to look or glance quickly or furtively, especially through a small opening or from a concealed location”.

Peaked is the past tense form of “the pointed top of a mountain or ridge” or “the highest or most important point or level”.  It’s an interesting choice and kinda fits the context, but is still incorrect.  I have seen authors say something like “the sun peaked over the horizon”.  In that context, because the horizon isn’t the highest point, it is wrong and “peeked” would be the appropriate choice.  You could, correctly, say “the sun peaked in the sky”, because in that case, the sun is at the highest point.

Piqued is the correct word to use here.  It has two different definitions “stimulate (interest or curiosity)” and “feel irritated or resentful”.  This is the correct word to use in this context.



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