sneak peak

From Tim Wilson on Facebook, a link to this piece by John Swansburg on Slate yesterday:

Stealth Mountain (@StealthMountain) is a Twitter bot with a single, simple purpose: It searches for tweets in which a person has typed the words “sneak peak” when they meant to type “sneak peek,” then publishes a reply informing the author of his error. The account went live in November, and as of this morning has issued 16,900 such corrections.

… Many recipients of @StealthMountain’s tweets do not appreciate being scolded, even gently. The owner of Stealth Mountain stars the nastiest responses, which allows the visitor to his Favorites page to see for himself the thanklessness [you might say quixotism] of this work, and to be reminded of the delightfully varied surliness of the Twitterverse.

(Tim adds, “And don’t call me “Surly”, an allusion to Leslie Nielsen’s line in the 1980 movie Airplane!, in response to “surely you can’t be serious”: “I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley”.)

Stealth Mountain’s avatar on Twitter:

The spelling error is, as you can see, very common. No doubt it’s facilitated by the spelling of sneak: the EA perseveres into the next word.

From Paul Brians’s Common Errors entry on peak / peek / pique:

It is tempting to think that your attention might be aroused to a high point by “peaking” your curiosity; but in fact, “pique” is a French word meaning “prick,” in the sense of “stimulate.” The expression has nothing to do with “peek,” either. Therefore the expression is “my curiosity was piqued.”

An amazing number of people write about “mountain peeks.” A peak is a summit; a peek is a glimpse.

Chris Waigl took up pique > peak on the Eggcorn Database back in 2005:

The substitution pique>peak is very common. It also makes much sense, once the verb _peak_ is equipped with a causative sense and allowed to take a second argument (an object complement), just like _walk_ in “walk the dog” or _grow_ in “grow potatoes”.  [2/15/05]

Ken Lakritz added the comment:

slightly less common, but also well represented in a Google search is the substitution of ‘peek’ for ‘pique.’ Apparently, having your interest ‘peeked’ motivates you to take a furtive glance at the object of that interest. [3/20/05]

And c3scribe moved on to peek > peak:

I see a real epidemic (sorry, no specific examples at this time) of “sneaking a peak,” substituting for “peek,” on the web and in printed matter. Maybe this comment belongs under a different heading, but I didn’t find any mentions when Googling here for “peak” and “peek.” [8/23/06]

But that takes us out of the eggcorn world — it’s hard to see the spelling as semantically motivated — and into the world of simple spelling confusions.

But, gosh: Someone has made a mistake … on the internet! (“Someone is wrong on the internet”, here). Call out the faulthounds!

3 Responses to “sneak peak”

  1. The Ridger Says:

    As Utahraptor once remarked: “Correcting people’s grammar in conversation is difficult to do without sounding like a jerk!” (And as T-Rex noted in response, “It’s true! Plus, you’ve got to be eternally vigilant with your own grammar, lest you mess up yourself.”

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    Lovely Dinosaur Comic, which I’ll probably post on separately.

  3. Dinosaur Grammar « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] a comment by The Ridger on my “sneak peak” posting, a link to this excellent Dinosaur […]

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