rejectomorph (flying_blind) wrote,


Recently, I've read several journal entries in which the writers speak of having had their interest in one thing or another peaked. Surely, though interest itself can peak (for example, as when interest in disco peaked in the 1970s), one's own interest can only be piqued. There is an intransitive verb to peak, meaning "to grow sickly and pale," from which we take the adjective peaked (two syllables), as in "You're looking a bit peaked." But the transitive verb I've always used when I've wanted to express the arousal of interest in something is pique. I've looked it up, and found that it comes from the French verb piquer meaning "to prick." The noun, of course denotes resentment, or a fit of dudgeon, but the verb to pique denotes the arousal of something, through some challenge or provocation. Resentment, anger, interest, curiosity, can all be piqued. I like the word, not least because of its close relative, the adjective piquant. Once denoting something stinging or disagreeably sharp, it now denotes something agreeably stimulating to the palate, or, via the wonder of metaphor, something engagingly provocative. To have one's interest piqued is much better than to have it peaked, in any case. Once your interest in something has reached a peak, there's nowhere for it to go but down. That would make anyone sickly and pale. One would then need some piquant stimulation, that they might no longer be so peaked.

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