a xx percent spike

Discussion in 'English Only' started by diegoclegane, Jun 29, 2017.

  1. diegoclegane Senior Member


    Here is a passage of an article from Scientific American:

    Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that in a nine-year span from 2003 to 2012 there was a 32 percent spike in strokes among 18- to 34-year-old women and a 15 percent increase for men in the same range.

    I don't understand exactly what "spike" means above? Does it refer to "increase"? (if does, what is the difference between "a xx percent spike" and "a xx percent increase".)
  2. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    A spike is an abrupt increase, followed quickly by an abrupt decrease. The graph looks like a spike (or a stalagmite or an upside-down icicle) at that point.
  3. boozer Senior Member

    This is a spike. A sudden surge.

    PS. ETB explained it while I was looking for a suitable photo. :)

    Attached Files:

  4. diegoclegane Senior Member

    Thank you guys, I get it.
  5. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    A spike can also be a sudden increase that is so recent that we don't yet know what will follow it.
  6. kentix

    kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    I agree. In the sentence quoted, there's no indication that the levels have dropped back down. So although a true spike has an up and a down, it's also used more imprecisely to mean a sudden increase. I think they are just trying to use a "livelier" word than increase. "Surge" might be a better alternative word.

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