[ speek ]
See synonyms for: speakspeakingspeaksspoken on Thesaurus.com

verb (used without object),spoke or (Archaic) spake [speyk]; /speɪk/; spo·ken or (Archaic) spoke; speak·ing.
  1. to utter words or articulate sounds with the ordinary voice; talk: He was too ill to speak.

  2. to communicate vocally; mention: to speak to a person about various matters.

  1. to converse: She spoke with him for an hour.

  2. to deliver an address, discourse, etc.: to speak at a meeting.

  3. to make a statement in written or printed words.

  4. to communicate, signify, or disclose something by any means; convey significance: The voters have spoken loud and clear.

  5. 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.

  6. (of a computer) to express data or other information audibly by means of an audio response unit.

  7. to emit a sound, as a musical instrument; make a noise or report.

  8. Chiefly British. (of dogs) to bark when ordered.

  9. Fox Hunting. (of a hound or pack) to bay on finding a scent.

verb (used with object),spoke or (Archaic) spake [speyk]; /speɪk/; spo·ken or (Archaic) spoke; speak·ing.
  1. to utter vocally and articulately: to speak words of praise.

  2. to express or make known with the voice: to speak the truth.

  1. to declare in writing or printing, or by any means of communication.

  2. to make known, indicate, or reveal.

  3. to use, or be able to use, in oral utterance, as a language: to speak French.

  4. (of a computer) to express or make known (data, prompts, etc.) by means of an audio response unit.

  5. Nautical. to communicate with (a passing vessel) at sea, as by voice or signal: We spoke a whaler on the fourth day at sea.

  6. Archaic. to speak to or with.

Verb Phrases
  1. speak for,

    • to intercede for or recommend; speak in behalf of.

    • to express or articulate the views of; represent.

    • to choose or prefer; have reserved for oneself: This item is already spoken for.

  2. 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.

  1. speak to,

    • to address or respond to, as in speech or action: The legislature must speak to the issue of gun violence.

    • to be appealing or relevant to: His music speaks to me on a very deep level.

    • to provide evidence for:Our company’s rapid growth speaks to the passion and commitment of our employees.

Idioms about speak

  1. so to speak, to use a manner of speaking; figuratively speaking: We still don't have our heads above water, so to speak.

  2. speak by the book, to say with great authority or precision: I can't speak by the book, but I know this is wrong.

  1. speak well for, to be an indication or reflection of (something commendable); testify admirably to: Her manners speak well for her upbringing.

  2. to speak of, worth mentioning: The country has no mineral resources to speak of.

Origin of speak

First recorded before 900; Middle English speken, Old English specan, variant of sprecan; cognate with German sprechen (Old High German sprehhan; compare variant spehhan )

synonym study For speak

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.

Other words for speak

Other words from speak

  • speak·a·ble, adjective
  • speak·a·ble·ness, noun
  • speak·a·bly, adverb

Other definitions for -speak (2 of 2)


  1. a combining form extracted from newspeak (coined by George Orwell in his novel, 1984), used in the formation of compound words, usually derogatory, derisive, or facetious, that denote the style or vocabulary of a discipline, person, era, etc., as specified by the initial element: techspeak; artspeak; nukespeak; leetspeak; geek-speak.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use speak in a sentence

  • “Perhaps you do not speak my language,” she said in Urdu, the tongue most frequently heard in Upper India.

    The Red Year | Louis Tracy
  • Now first we shall want our pupil to understand, speak, read and write the mother tongue well.

    The Salvaging Of Civilisation | H. G. (Herbert George) Wells
  • To be wiser than other men is to be honester than they; and strength of mind is only courage to see and speak the truth.

    Pearls of Thought | Maturin M. Ballou
  • Since this is a law of vibration, it is unscientific to speak of giving an overtone, for all tones contain overtones.

    Expressive Voice Culture | Jessie Eldridge Southwick
  • When we speak against one capital vice, we ought to speak against its opposite; the middle betwixt both is the point for virtue.

    Pearls of Thought | Maturin M. Ballou

British Dictionary definitions for speak (1 of 2)


/ (spiːk) /

verbspeaks, speaking, spoke or spoken
  1. to make (verbal utterances); utter (words)

  2. to communicate or express (something) in or as if in words: I speak the truth

  1. (intr) to deliver a speech, discourse, etc

  2. (tr) to know how to talk in (a language or dialect): he does not speak German

  3. (intr) to make a characteristic sound: the clock spoke

  4. (intr) (of dogs, esp hounds used in hunting) to give tongue; bark

  5. (tr) nautical to hail and converse or communicate with (another vessel) at sea

  6. (intr) (of a musical instrument) to produce a sound

  7. (intr foll by for) to be a representative or advocate (of): he speaks for all the members

  8. on speaking terms on good terms; friendly

  9. so to speak in a manner of speaking; as it were

  10. speak one's mind to express one's opinions frankly and plainly

  11. to speak of of a significant or worthwhile nature: we have had no support to speak of

Origin of speak

Old English specan; related to Old High German spehhan, Middle High German spechten to gossip, Middle Dutch speken; see speech

Derived forms of speak

  • speakable, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for -speak (2 of 2)


suffix forming nouns
  1. informal the language or jargon of a specific group, organization, or field: computerspeak

Origin of -speak

C20: formed on the pattern of newspeak

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with speak


In addition to the idioms beginning with speak

  • speak down to
  • speak for
  • speak of the devil
  • speak one's mind
  • speak one's piece
  • speak out
  • speak out of turn
  • speak the same language
  • speak too soon
  • speak up
  • speak volumes

also see:

  • actions speak louder than words
  • in a manner of speaking
  • nothing to speak of
  • not to mention (speak of)
  • on speaking terms
  • so to speak
  • to speak of

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.