An Open Letter to Everyone Writing about Sneaky Mountains

Dear People Who Write,

This is a plea to all the journalists, bloggers, social media posters, and anyone else who writes things for others to see.

Stop saying "sneak peak."

There are no peaks that sneak. Not a single mountaintop is conspiring against anything. They are completely innocent.

This seems obvious, but every day the English language is ruthlessly assaulted by someone who carelessly writes "sneak peak" instead of "sneak peek."

It can be found in headlines from local news stations, newspapers and various other sites—staffed with professionals—that offer a peek at content. Folks with @ symbols in front of their names are often guilty as well. A quick hashtag search on Instagram reveals more than half a million people have tagged an image with the incorrect spelling.

It's an epidemic.


Like Mt. Everest, conquering this sneaky "peak" won't be easy. The pressure for news outlets to provide quick content is accelerating the publishing process and increasing the likelihood of human error. While that may be an excuse for some, others simply might not know the difference because their mastery of linguistics has not yet peaked.

For hurried writers, spellcheck won't help. Computers see "peak" in "sneak peak" as a real word that is spelled correctly. Please, for the sake of our craft, and until artificial intelligence gets a little smarter, take a moment to read what you've written. If you're a journalist you can ask your proofreader to help because, like you, that person is getting paid to do a job, too. (This will also prevent other typos, like the classic "pubic schools" that shows up all too often.)

Here's a sneak peek at some of the offenders you'll find with a Google News search, just from the last few weeks:

Indianapolis Business Journal
KCCI News 8
ABC News 11
The Daily Mail
WCHS ABC Channel 8
The Des Moines Register
Washington DC Sun Times
Pink News
KRON News 4
The Washington Post

More "peaks" will have snuck through the editorial cracks by the time you've finished reading this letter. See for yourself by clicking right here. I hope I've piqued (note the spelling there) your interest in this issue and that you will join me in spelling words correctly. After all, that's the way they're meant to be spelled.

Sincerely yours,
Marc Hartzman