[ speek ]
/ spik /
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See synonyms for: speak / speaking / speaks / spoken on Thesaurus.com

verb (used without object), spoke or (Archaic) spake [speyk]; /speɪk/; spo·ken or (Archaic) spoke; speak·ing.
verb (used with object), spoke or (Archaic) spake [speyk]; /speɪk/; spo·ken or (Archaic) spoke; speak·ing.
Verb Phrases
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Idioms about speak

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.


speak·a·ble, adjectivespeak·a·ble·ness, nounspeak·a·bly, adverb

Other definitions for speak (2 of 2)


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. 2022


What does -speak mean?

The combining formspeak is used like a suffix meaning “a way of talking” or “a variety of language.” Often, it has a derogatory, or negative, connotation. It is occasionally used in a variety of informal or slang terms.

The form –speak is derived from the word newspeak, from George Orwell’s book 1984 (1949). Newspeak is the term Orwell coined to describe the way official language often “say[s] one thing in the guise of its opposite, especially in order to serve a political or ideological cause while pretending to be objective.” Put simply, it is language used for propaganda, such as describing a forced labor camp as a “joycamp.”

Examples of -speak

One example of a term that features the form –speak is leetspeak, “a coded spelling system and language used in very informal communications on the internet, featuring letters combined with numbers or special characters in place of letters that they may resemble, and including inventive misspellings, jargon, and slang.” An example of leetspeak is n00b, meaning “newbie.”

The leet– part of the word leetspeak is short for “elite.” The –speak part of the word means “a variety of language,” as we have seen. Leetspeak literally means “elite language.”

What are some words that use the combining form –speak?

What are some other forms that –speak may be commonly confused with?

Break it down!

The word net is an informal shortening of internet. With this in mind, what does netspeak mean?


What is a basic definition of speak?

Speak means to talk, to give a lecture or speech, or to use your voice to say something. The word speak has many other senses as a verb and is used in several idioms.

Speak is a synonym of talk and means to use words and sounds to communicate. When humans speak with each other, we use language governed by rules to understand each other.

Some birds, such as parrots and ravens, are able to imitate human voices. While they don’t actually understand the words they use, we still say these animals are able to speak.

  • Real-life examples: It is very unlikely that you never speak to people. Some people use sign language to communicate because they are unable to speak. If you have a cold or sore throat, it is harder to speak.
  • Used in a sentence: My throat hurts, so I am having trouble speaking. 

If someone speaks at an event, they are giving a lecture or speech there. Special guests or honorary lecturers often speak at colleges, scientific conventions, or award ceremonies.

  • Used in a sentence: I was in the audience when the president spoke at our college. 

When used as a transitive verb, speak means to use your voice to express something or to say something.

  • Real-life examples: Witnesses at trials are expected to speak the truth. In the past, in many countries it was often dangerous to speak against God or the country’s religion. People from France speak French.
  • Used in a sentence: I knew the right answer, but I was too nervous to speak the words.

Where does speak come from?

The first records of speak come from before the 900s. It comes from the Old English specan and is related to the Old High German spehhan, also meaning “to speak.”

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What are some other forms related to speak?

  • speaker (noun)
  • speakable (adjective)
  • speakableness (noun)
  • speakably (adverb)
  • unspeakable (adjective)

What are some synonyms for speak?

What are some words that share a root or word element with speak

What are some words that often get used in discussing speak?

How is speak used in real life?

Speak is a very common word that most often means to talk.

Try using speak!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of speak?

A. talk
B. silence
C. say
D. tell

How to use speak in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for speak (1 of 2)

/ (spiːk) /

verb speaks, speaking, spoke or spoken

Derived forms of speak

speakable, adjective

Word Origin for speak

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

British Dictionary definitions for speak (2 of 2)


suffix forming nouns
informal the language or jargon of a specific group, organization, or fieldcomputerspeak

Word Origin for -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


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