a xx percent spike


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".)
  • 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.


    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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