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[speek-ee-zee] /ˈspikˌi zi/
noun, plural speakeasies.
a saloon or nightclub selling alcoholic beverages illegally, especially during Prohibition.
Origin of speakeasy
An Americanism dating back to 1885-90; speak + easy Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for speakeasy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You can take the first shot with old 'speakeasy' an' then I'll try her.

    The Southerner Thomas Dixon
  • You couldn't see him for dust as he broke for the nearest 'speakeasy,' and the two panhandlers were hanging on to his coat tails.

    Side Show Studies Francis Metcalfe
  • He's been in the "cigar store" bookie racket ever since repeal had closed a speakeasy he'd had on Grand Avenue.

    Direct Wire Clee Garson
British Dictionary definitions for speakeasy


noun (pl) -easies
(US) a place where alcoholic drink was sold illicitly during Prohibition
Word Origin
C19: from speak + easy (in the sense: gently, quietly)
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 speakeasy

"unlicensed saloon," 1889 (in New York "Voice"), from speak + easy; so called from the practice of speaking quietly about such a place in public, or when inside it, so as not to alert the police and neighbors. The word gained wide currency in U.S. during Prohibition (1920-1932). In early 19c. Irish and British dialect, a speak softly shop meant "smuggler's den."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for speakeasy



A cheap saloon, esp an illegal or after-hours place: It had been a speakeasy once/ All they give you in these speaks is smoke/ one thing that puts a speako over

[1889+; Samuel Hudson, a journalist, says in a 1909 book that he used the term in Philadelphia in 1889 after having heard it used in Pittsburgh by an old Irish woman who sold liquor clandestinely to her neighbors and enjoined them to ''spake asy''; hence related to early 1800s Irish and British dialect spake-aisy or speak softly shop, ''smugglers' den'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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