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[speyk] /speɪk/
verb, Archaic.
a simple past tense of speak.


[speek] /spik/
verb (used without object), spoke or (Archaic) spake; spoken or (Archaic) spoke; speaking.
to utter words or articulate sounds with the ordinary voice; talk:
He was too ill to speak.
to communicate vocally; mention:
to speak to a person about various matters.
to converse:
She spoke with him for an hour.
to deliver an address, discourse, etc.:
to speak at a meeting.
to make a statement in written or printed words.
to communicate, signify, or disclose by any means; convey significance.
Phonetics. to produce sounds or audible sequences of individual or concatenated sounds of a language, especially through phonation, amplification, and resonance, and through any of a variety of articulatory processes.
(of a computer) to express data or other information audibly by means of an audio response unit.
to emit a sound, as a musical instrument; make a noise or report.
Chiefly British. (of dogs) to bark when ordered.
Fox Hunting. (of a hound or pack) to bay on finding a scent.
verb (used with object), spoke or (Archaic) spake; spoken or (Archaic) spoke; speaking.
to utter vocally and articulately:
to speak words of praise.
to express or make known with the voice:
to speak the truth.
to declare in writing or printing, or by any means of communication.
to make known, indicate, or reveal.
to use, or be able to use, in oral utterance, as a language:
to speak French.
(of a computer) to express or make known (data, prompts, etc.) by means of an audio response unit.
Nautical. to communicate with (a passing vessel) at sea, as by voice or signal:
We spoke a whaler on the fourth day at sea.
Archaic. to speak to or with.
Verb phrases
speak for,
  1. to intercede for or recommend; speak in behalf of.
  2. to express or articulate the views of; represent.
  3. to choose or prefer; have reserved for oneself:
    This item is already spoken for.
speak out, to express one's opinion openly and unreservedly:
He was not afraid to speak out when it was something he believed in strongly.
so to speak, to use a manner of speaking; figuratively speaking:
We still don't have our heads above water, so to speak.
speak by the book, to say with great authority or precision:
I can't speak by the book, but I know this is wrong.
speak well for, to be an indication or reflection of (something commendable); testify admirably to:
Her manners speak well for her upbringing.
to speak of, worth mentioning:
The country has no mineral resources to speak of.
Origin of speak
before 900; Middle English speken, Old English specan, variant of sprecan; cognate with German sprechen (Old High German sprehhan; compare variant spehhan)
Related forms
speakable, adjective
speakableness, noun
speakably, adverb
1. Speak, converse, talk mean to make vocal sounds, usually for purposes of communication. To speak often implies conveying information and may apply to anything from an informal remark to a scholarly presentation to a formal address: to speak sharply; to speak before Congress. To converse is to exchange ideas with someone by speaking: to converse with a friend. To talk is a close synonym for to speak but usually refers to less formal situations: to talk about the weather; to talk with a friend. 12. pronounce, articulate. 13. say. 15. disclose. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for spake
Historical Examples
  • Sir Gawain spake: "For that may God, who ruleth over all, reward ye."

    The Romance of Morien Jessie L. Weston
  • He spake, and walking to that aged form, Look'd high defiance.

    Endymion John Keats
  • I saw the child myself on Sutton quay, ay, and spake with him, but I'd no notion that he meant to follow us on board.

    The Golden Galleon Robert Leighton
  • “Yes, but you are not she that spake to us on the road,” said Cissy.

    The King's Daughters Emily Sarah Holt
  • And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true.

  • From that tyme to his forth commyng to the fire, spake no man with him.

  • He could not quite reach Cheyenne, who slapped at the bull with his hat and spake eloquently.

    Partners of Chance Henry Herbert Knibbs
  • While he yet spake, two balls entered his heart, and he fell dead.

  • Many heard what she spake, and a murmur of joy ran through the ranks of men: for they deemed her words to forecast victory.

    The House of the Wolfings William Morris
  • As He spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever!

British Dictionary definitions for spake


(archaic or dialect) a past tense of speak


verb speaks, speaking, spoke, spoken
to make (verbal utterances); utter (words)
to communicate or express (something) in or as if in words: I speak the truth
(intransitive) to deliver a speech, discourse, etc
(transitive) to know how to talk in (a language or dialect): he does not speak German
(intransitive) to make a characteristic sound: the clock spoke
(intransitive) (of dogs, esp hounds used in hunting) to give tongue; bark
(transitive) (nautical) to hail and converse or communicate with (another vessel) at sea
(intransitive) (of a musical instrument) to produce a sound
(intransitive) foll by for. to be a representative or advocate (of): he speaks for all the members
on speaking terms, on good terms; friendly
so to speak, in a manner of speaking; as it were
speak one's mind, to express one's opinions frankly and plainly
to speak of, of a significant or worthwhile nature: we have had no support to speak of
Derived Forms
speakable, adjective
Word Origin
Old English specan; related to Old High German spehhan, Middle High German spechten to gossip, Middle Dutch speken; see speech
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for spake



Old English specan, variant of sprecan "to speak" (class V strong verb; past tense spræc, past participle sprecen), from Proto-Germanic *sprekanan (cf. Old Saxon sprecan, Old Frisian spreka, Middle Dutch spreken, Old High German sprehhan, German sprechen "to speak," Old Norse spraki "rumor, report"), cognate with Latin spargere "to strew" (speech as a "scattering" of words; see sparse).

The -r- began to drop out in Late West Saxon and was gone by mid-12c., perhaps from influence of Danish spage "crackle," in a slang sense of "speak" (cf. crack in slang senses having to do with speech, e.g. wisecrack, cracker, all it's cracked up to be). Rare variant forms without -r- also are found in Middle Dutch (speken) and Old High German (spehhan).

Not the primary word for "to speak" in Old English (the "Beowulf" author prefers maþelian, from mæþel "assembly, council," from root of metan "to meet;" cf. Greek agoreuo "to speak," originally "speak in the assembly," from agora "assembly").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with spake
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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