peep peek peer

< Previous | Next >

sonix

Senior Member
Spain
Peep, peer, peek.

What is the difference in meaning and use between these words (i.e. to look quickly, furtively...)? are they complete synonyms?

Thanks in advance.

 
Last edited:
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Please give us an example sentence in which you might use these words. Our rules require it, but the more important reason is that a particular context helps people think of more specific differences. These words have similar meanings, but they give slightly different impressions of what is being done.
     

    sonix

    Senior Member
    Spain
    Ok, for example in a simple sentence like this :

    - ` Paul peered/peeked/peeped out of the window. ´ What's the best option of the three and why? or are they complete synonyms in this sentence?

    Thanks.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Sonix has given us the sentence I asked for.

    Now we can tell the different impressions we have of what Paul is doing, according to which verb is used.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    Peeked and peeped are pretty much synonymous, in this sentence and elsewhere. Peered doesn't mean the same thing, though. The way I use it (and the way it's defined in the WR dictionary) is "to look with difficulty or concentratration." There's no implication of furtiveness or quickness, at least not as far as I know.

    So I have to peer at something if I forget my glasses and can't see very well, and I have to peer at a coin when I'm trying to read the tiny date that says when it was minted, but the insanely nosy lady who lives across the street peeps or peeks through a small opening in her curtains to see what I'm up to in the yard.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    For me:
    Peep is to look at/ observe/ gaze at something your not supposed to while trying to remain hidden so the others don't know you are looking.
    Peep through the window at what is happening in the street.

    Peer is to observe for a longer period of time. I don't think it matters if they know you are there.
    All afternoon he peered out his window onto the street.

    Peek is quickly, not necessarily furtively.
    Let's (have a) peek at what's happening down there.

    I don't use "peer" very often, perhaps never. "Have a peek" sounds slightly better than "peek".

    In your example perhaps all are fine with the nuances I gave.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "Peer" is quite different. (from Merriam-Webster):
    : to look narrowly or curiously; especially : to look searchingly at something difficult to discern
    For the given sentence with no further context, I would say "peeped" and "peeked" are the same. If we knew why the speaker doesn't want to stand visibly in front of the window and stare for a long time at whatever it is he's looking at, I might choose between the two. For example, I think "peek" is more often used when you are looking quickly and furtively because you have been forbidden to look at the thing. (I peeked inside my mother's closet where my Christmas presents were hidden.)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top