from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A state of vexation caused by a perceived slight or indignity; a feeling of wounded pride.
  • transitive v. To cause to feel resentment or indignation.
  • transitive v. To provoke; arouse: The portrait piqued her curiosity.
  • transitive v. To pride (oneself): He piqued himself on his stylish attire.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A feeling of enmity between two entities; ill-feeling, animosity; a transient feeling of wounded pride.
  • n. A feeling of irritation or resentment, awakened by a social slight or injury; offence, especially taken in an emotional sense with little thought or consideration.
  • v. To wound the pride of; to sting; to nettle; to irritate; to fret; to excite to anger.
  • v. To take pride in; to pride oneself on.
  • v. To excite (someone) to action by causing resentment or jealousy; to stimulate (a feeling, emotion); to offend by slighting.
  • n. In piquet, the right of the elder hand to count thirty in hand, or to play before the adversary counts one.
  • n. A chigger or jigger, Tunga penetrans.
  • n. A durable ribbed fabric made from cotton, rayon, or silk.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The jigger. See jigger.
  • n. A feeling of hurt, vexation, or resentment, awakened by a social slight or injury; irritation of the feelings, as through wounded pride; stinging vexation.
  • n. Keenly felt desire; a longing.
  • n. In piquet, the right of the elder hand to count thirty in hand, or to play before the adversary counts one.
  • intransitive v. To cause annoyance or irritation.
  • transitive v. To wound the pride of; to sting; to nettle; to irritate; to fret; to offend; to excite to anger.
  • transitive v. To excite to action by causing resentment or jealousy; to stimulate; to prick.
  • transitive v. To pride or value; -- used reflexively.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To win a pique from. See pique, n., 4.
  • To sting, in a figurative sense; nettle; irritate; offend; fret; excite a degree of anger in.
  • To stimulate or excite to action by arousing envy, jealousy, or other passion in a somewhat slight degree.
  • Reflexively, to pride or value (one's self).
  • Synonyms To displease, vex, provoke. See pique, n.
  • n. A point or peak.
  • n. A point of conduct; punctilio.
  • n. A blind tick, Argas nigra, capable of causing painful sores on cattle and men. See Argas.
  • n. The jigger, chigoe, or chique. See Sarcopsylla.
  • n. In the game of piquet, the winning of thirty points before one's opponent scores at all in the same deal, entitling the winner to add thirty more to his score.
  • n. A quarrel; dispute; strife.
  • n. A feeling of anger, irritation, displeasure, or resentment arising from wounded pride, vanity, or self-love; wounded pride; slight umbrage or offense taken.
  • n. Synonyms Pique and umbrage differ from the words compared under animosily (which see) in that they are not necessarily or generally attended by a desire to injure the person toward whom the feeling is entertained. They are both purely personal. Pique is more likely to be a matter of injured self-respect or self-conceit; it is a quick feeling, and is more fugitive in character. Umbrage is founded upon the idea of being thrown into the shade or overshadowed; hence, it has the sense of offense at being slighted or not sufficiently recognized; it is indefinite as to the strength or the permanence of the feeling.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. tightly woven fabric with raised cords
  • v. cause to feel resentment or indignation
  • n. a sudden outburst of anger


French, a prick, irritation, from Old French, from piquer, to prick, from Vulgar Latin *piccāre, ultimately of imitative origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle French pique ("a prick, sting"), from Old French pic ("a sharp point"). Etymological twin to pike ("long pointed weapon"). (Wiktionary)
From French pic. (Wiktionary)
From Spanish pique, from Central Quechua piki. (Wiktionary)
From French piqué from past participle of French piquer ("to prick, quilt") (Wiktionary)



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  • Pique? Aren't those the two letters sandwiched between O and R?

    July 23, 2014

  • yes, for piques sake.

    July 23, 2014

  • Are you trying to pique a fight marky?

    July 23, 2014

  • why does this word have so many contradicting definitions?

    July 22, 2014

  • I often do pique myself on my stylish attire. ;)

    August 15, 2012

  • No, no, that's "peek-a-boo." As in you "peek" at know...a "boo"...obviously.

    September 26, 2009

  • I thought Picabo was a game you play with babies.

    September 17, 2009

  • Picabo is an Idaho town that skier Picabo Street was named after. Bodie is a ?Montana ghost town that another skier (Bodie Miller) was presumably named after. Does this observation of obscure western town names as a source of snow skier's names pique anyone's interest? Cody (Wyoming) doesn't count, the rodeo cowboys have that ownership claimed already.

    September 17, 2009

  • Ah, another convert.

    September 17, 2009

  • Oddly enough, I've stumbled upon this word after considering "in a fit of pique" as an appropriate alternative to "took umbrage" because, silly me, I thought the phrase was overused.

    Now, two hours later, I am a better woman. I realize now that I have never fully understood the rich history that attends the act of taking umbrage and will never accept anything less than umbrage again.

    September 17, 2009

  • reesetee; I share your peek.

    March 5, 2009

  • As bad as when people ask you to "take a peak" at something. It puts me in a fit of pique.

    March 4, 2009

  • Frankly, velvet would make a better verb.

    'Velvet your words, lad, lest I should rip them from your tongue.'

    But I digress, being piqued and at my peak.

    March 4, 2009

  • I just came here to whinge about people who mix this up with peak ("you've peaked my interest"), only to find chained_bear beat me by 10 months!

    March 4, 2009

  • see pique-a-boo

    July 21, 2008

  • The Merriam Webster definition is poetic: "a transient feeling of wounded vanity."

    July 21, 2008

  • Why do you hate freedom?

    April 29, 2008

  • But nobody ever has a fit of piqué, that I know of. And if they did, they'd probably spell it wrong.

    Does anyone ever have a fit of Picabo Street?

    April 29, 2008

  • I defer to the wisdom of Picabo Street on this matter.

    April 29, 2008

  • Oh, you're not the digressor here, frindley. :-)

    April 29, 2008

  • (Digressing back to Laiane's comment…)
    When used in reference to fabric it's usually pronounced pee-kay, and in fact the NSOED's preferred spelling for this sense is piqué. (But "pique" is allowed as an alternative.)

    April 29, 2008

  • Oh, jump right in, jennarenn! The more the merrier! I haven't even started on peek yet. ;-)

    April 29, 2008

  • Dang, reestee. *I* wanted to whip c_b into a fit of peek. No fair!

    April 29, 2008

  • Or, say, you're about to summit one of the Fourteeners and a massive snowstorm blows in, so you have to turn back. A fit of peak!

    April 29, 2008

  • Only in that case, yes. But you would more correctly call it a fit of peak pique. No?

    April 29, 2008

  • But what if, say, you order an ice cream sundae with no whipped cream, and the waitron brings you one topped with a giant crest of it? Then you would reasonably be entitled to a fit of peak, don't you think?

    April 29, 2008

  • I really hate when people spell "fit of pique" with "peak." Grrr.

    April 29, 2008

  • But my brother and sister have such an influence over everybody, and are so determined; so pique themselves upon subduing me and carrying their point; that I despair that they will...

    Clarissa Harlowe to Anna Howe, Clarissa by Samuel Richardson

    December 4, 2007

  • I've often heard the expression"fit of pique", using the primary definition of "A state of vexation caused by a perceived slight or indignity; a feeling of wounded pride" to mean acting out of wounded pride.

    December 1, 2007

  • I've never seen this "woven fabric" definition. I've always used this as in brtom's comment.

    November 30, 2007

  • You pique my curiosity, Haines said amiably. Is it some paradox?
    Joyce, Ulysses, 1

    December 29, 2006