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pinnacles(4) on King's College Chapel, Cambridge, UK


From Middle English, borrowed from Old French pinacle, pinnacle, from Late Latin pinnaculum (a peak, pinnacle), double diminutive of Latin pinna (a pinnacle); see pin. Doublet of panache.


  • IPA(key): /ˈpɪnəkəl/
    • (file)


pinnacle (plural pinnacles)

  1. The highest point.
    Synonyms: acme, peak, summit
    Antonym: nadir
  2. (geology) A tall, sharp and craggy rock or mountain.
    • 1900, James George Frazer, The Golden Bough, volume 2, page 55:
      Kings, who remain in many respects the representatives of a vanished world, solitary pinnacles that topple over the rising waste of waters under which the past lies buried.
    Coordinate term: sea stack
  3. (figuratively) An all-time high; a point of greatest achievement or success.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:apex
    • 2018, James Lambert, “A multitude of ‘lishes’: The nomenclature of hybridity”, in English World-Wide[1], page 7:
      The pinnacle of the effort to fix restrictive meanings to a set of terminology can be found in two papers in American Speech by Feinsilver (1979, 1980).
  4. (architecture) An upright member, generally ending in a small spire, used to finish a buttress, to constitute a part in a proportion, as where pinnacles flank a gable or spire.



pinnacle (third-person singular simple present pinnacles, present participle pinnacling, simple past and past participle pinnacled)

  1. (transitive) To place on a pinnacle.
  2. (transitive) To build or furnish with a pinnacle or pinnacles.
    • 1782, Thomas Warton, The History and Antiquities of Kiddington
      The pediment of the Southern Transept is pinnacled, not inelegantly, with a flourished cross


Further reading[edit]