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While reading a book I encountered the sentence I don't understand. Please give me some advice.

Situation: During a class, a student, Ashley Bonny is caught being lackadaisical when she should pay attention. Her teacher, Mrs. Warner stands right next to her.

(The sentence in question is taken from the following passage of the book "The Bonny Pirates" by V B Leghorn)

"Hopefully you were thinking about Shakespeare's prose." Mrs. Warner was being frank and her wrath was quite evident. She had her arms crossed and she was tapping her toe. "Yes, ma'm. It is undeniable. I was absolutely, most definitely thinking about Shakespeare." The classroom erupted in laughter and the boy next to her gave her a jeer. Ashely looked around, blushing that she had blurred out something that made the entire room laugh. A crooked smile crossed her face and she laughed too. Unfortunately, Mrs.Warner wasn't laughing and Ashley could see that she was irate. Ashely had pushed her past her patience pique.

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  • the hardest word here is "pique". It is being used oddly, but I wonder if that is for the alliteration. It's not a typo.
    – James K
    Apr 13, 2021 at 7:25

1 Answer 1

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"Pique" is a fairly rare word meaning "anger" or "annoyance". You'd only usually hear it in the phrase "a fit of pique" (a sudden outburst of anger)

It is being used in an odd way here. It is clearly meant to suggest that the teacher has been patient. But Ashley has "gone too far" and now she has made her teacher angry. But the phrasing is odd.

It seems likely that this is to achieve the alliteration. There is a repetition of "p" words. So I'm willing to let this pass as poetic licence.

While it is possible that the author could have confused "pique" with "peak". I would not expect this kind of elementary error in a published book.

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  • Thank you again. Apr 13, 2021 at 8:03
  • I too thought that it must be a mistake for peak - the teacher had passed the highest level at which it was possible for her to remain patient. Apr 13, 2021 at 8:24
  • @Kate, thank you for your comments. Apr 13, 2021 at 8:44
  • I have seen 'peaked my curiosity' in allegedly reputable publications. Jun 9, 2022 at 9:18

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