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“Sneak peek” vs. “sneak peak”

“Sneak peek” or “sneak peak”?

I’ve been using the term regularly in the last six months, and I admit, because “peak” and “peek” sound the same, one can easily get them mixed up.

Even your regular public relations person, who should have made an extra effort to spell-check, didn’t get it right when he sent me an invite today saying, “Witness the power of the Mouth as five fun personalities give you a sneak peak on what their mouths can do!”

Before we all get piqued by this misuse, let’s get it straight, shall we?

If we’re referring to a preview of something that hasn’t gone public yet, the correct term is “sneak peek,” where the word “peek” means “a quick glance.” (Thanks,  So when we’re telling someone to “Take a peek of the Ralph Lauren spring collection,” we’re actually offering a “sneak peek” of a line that hasn’t been launched officially.

The word “peak,” on the other hand, refers to the tip of the mountain or the highest level of anything, such as “The peak of my writing career will be when I get the Nobel Prize for Literature,” which is the peak of delusion, really, similar to my ambition of climbing “the peak of Mt. Everest” (probably never going to happen, with my injured foot).

If you’re having trouble setting them apart, just remember that “peek” is spelled almost like its closest cousin, “peep.”  By giving someone a “sneak peek,” you’re indulging the peeping Tom in him. (We know you want to.)


Like mother, like son

My son Jacob grew up wanting to be a book editor like me. He would say, “When I grow up, I want to work at your office at so-and-so.”

I remember when I was project manager for this print-on-demand publishing firm that there were nights I’d come home very late and not get to see him for three straight days, so I’d make up by bringing him to work and he’d settle into one of the empty walk-in closets in the office and read, color, cut paper, or do something productive.

Other times I’d bring a lot of work home, mostly printouts of manuscripts that needed reviewing, and skim through them while he’d sit beside me reading. The printouts would end up in two piles: one with corrections would be brought back to the office. The clean pages would go to him, and he’d pretend he’d be editing them as well.

I didn’t realize how absorbed he was with this “writer” and “editor” thing until recently, when he did the opening prayer during his preschool graduation. My mom, who had been a school principal in her working years, had drawn up the prayer for my little boy and practiced him every night so he would perfect it.

Of course, the ever-stubborn boy would not just take the draft as is: he had his own questions too. One line went, “This will be the last time that we will see each other–all 36 of us . . .” and this six-year-old disagreed with “all 36 of us” because “it is not a sentence, and it is grammatically incorrect”!

My mom was certainly shocked but kept her temper in check. “It’s for emphasis,” she says. “Writers do it a lot.”

And my boy said, “Well, you’re NOT a writer.”

Ooops. Now that’s what I mean by “a little knowledge . . .”

March 4 is Grammer, er Grammar Day

Yes, Virginia, there is such an occasion as Grammar Day.

Do you adore clean, correct sentences? Do ungrammatical advertisements make you cringe? We understand completely, and this is why the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar and MSN Encarta have designated March 4, 2008 as National Grammar Day.

Now you have every excuse to call the attention of someone who spells it attension. Or says  irregardless. 

I just love these people!

Incidentally, I just received a survey from Chicago Manual asking for feedback about its grammar chapter, which, I must admit, I seldom use. Another reason to take it out from the shelf and use it.