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Pique. The word is Pique.

Sunday, June 10, 2007
This is more than a pet peeve. Actually, it's a major annoyance. We're writers, right? Words are our tools. Our stock in trade. So if we're using the wrong words, then, really, what's the point?

Pique. Not peek, not peak, but PIQUE.

The heroine piqued his interest.

She did not peek his interest, which implies that she looked in on his interest through a basement window.

She did not peak his interest, which implies that she brought his interest to its highest point ever. She warranted a second glance. Maybe a third. But he didn't go all Nancy Drew on her. "OMG! She is the most fascinating object I have ever encountered and I only just laid eyes on her halfway across a smoky bar. I'll never be so interested in anything ever again. Everything in my life is now secondary to this moment. Even having sex with her will never reach the complete fulfillment of how she has peaked my interest." Actually, if your hero does think this, you may want to reconsider your definition of heroic to include idiotic.

They might do other things that reach a peak, but, really, this ain't* it.

She piqued his interest. According to Dictionary.com: To excite (interest, curiosity, etc.) or To arouse an emotion or provoke to action.

See? That's what she did. She excited some emotion in him. Her appearance snagged his consciousness so that his curiosity focused on her. Seeing her in that smoky bar provoked him enough to stand up and walk over to her. That's it.

She piqued his interest.

The thing is, it's not like these words are even easy to confuse, except for the pronunciation. They're all completely different words.

Please, I beg of you. Know your words. Use them wisely. Be a wordsmith. It matters.

* For those of you who have been beaten too roughly with the literal stick, yes, I meant to say "ain't."


6/10/2007 10:59:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 9 Comments


*sigh* I'm afraid I've been guilty of a few of these. It's a phonic thing.
Luckily for me, any ms I write goes through several people before it's published, so I've been saved from having these show up too often.

By Blogger Jennifer McK, at 1:15 PM  

I've seen it in published books, too, Jen, so don't depend too heavily on your cp's and editors to catch it. They're fallible, too!

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 2:06 PM  

Good post, Sela. I remember posting a critique once where I corrected the author when she said her heroine "stealed her nerves". I told her that it should be "steeled her nerves" meaning to make tough or resolute. She argued with me that I was wrong, and I told her to look it up in the dictionary. I don't think she looked it up, because she never changed it. I hope that a good editor changed it if she ever had it published.

By Blogger L.K. Campbell, at 4:28 PM  

This is one of the most abused homophones. I don't see the pique/peek or pique/peak confusion as much as peek/peak, and that one drives me bananas.

I saw one in a bestselling author's book where she used the word "tack" instead of "tact". Oops. Sort of threw me out of the moment to say the least.

Grace Draven

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:04 PM  

It does matter! And I used that word just last night....


By Blogger Karen Erickson, at 11:16 AM  

Yes and another one that gets me is peeled/pealed. I peeled an orange. The bell pealed. Her laughter pealed. To peal is to ring out. To peel is to remove an outer covering or layers. (Not literal definitions).

I actually saw this error on a Disney storyboard on one of the girls's dvd's the other day. I gritted my teeth.

By Blogger Donna Alward, at 3:16 PM  

I'm pretty sure I'm guilty of this. LOL
And I have to say, I partly blame my spell check. Everytime I use a non-common word, it tells me I'm wrong. *sigh* and I don't know how to Add words to it.

By Anonymous Sasha, at 5:22 PM  

Right on, Sela!
There are mistakes by carelessness - and God knows I'm guilty of those - but there's no excuse for sheer ignorance.

By Blogger Bernita, at 7:28 AM  

Homophone switch-ups like y'all describe just get under my skin. Sometimes I can convince myself it's just a typo -- I frequently mis-type "right" and "write" -- I get to giggle at myself when I see something like "I right for an hour a day." Not entirely accurate, I'm afraid. If you added up all the nano-seconds where I'm actually right about something, I doubt it would add up to 15 minutes, much less an hour. *gg*

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 7:48 AM  

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