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See more synonyms for bespeak on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), be·spoke or (Archaic) be·spake; be·spo·ken or be·spoke; be·speak·ing.
  1. to ask for in advance: to bespeak the reader's patience.
  2. to reserve beforehand; engage in advance; make arrangements for: to bespeak a seat in a theater.
  3. Literary. to speak to; address.
  4. to show; indicate: This bespeaks a kindly heart.
  5. Obsolete. to foretell; forebode.
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Origin of bespeak

before 900; Middle English bespeken, Old English besprecan. See be-, speak
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

imply, attest, exclaim, engage, show, hint, request, stipulate, discuss, speak, accost, foretell, argue, address, ask, announce, reserve, cite, arrange

Examples from the Web for bespeak

Historical Examples

  • As he said this, he held up his hand to bespeak Martin's attention.

    Life And Adventures Of Martin Chuzzlewit

    Charles Dickens

  • Was there one, even one, whose counsel he could ask, or whose assistance he could bespeak?

    One Of Them

    Charles James Lever

  • I hate to tell you, but as I wish to bespeak your kind offices, I must do so.

  • The reply of Ossaroo did not bespeak any very sanguine hope on his part.

    The Cliff Climbers

    Captain Mayne Reid

  • The colour of his skin, with the moustache, bespeak him a white man, and not an Indian.

    The Lone Ranche

    Captain Mayne Reid

British Dictionary definitions for bespeak


verb -speaks, -speaking, -spoke, -spoken or -spoke (tr)
  1. to engage, request, or ask for in advance
  2. to indicate or suggestthis act bespeaks kindness
  3. poetic to speak to; address
  4. archaic to foretell
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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

Word Origin and History for bespeak


Old English besprecan "speak about, speak against, complain," from be- + sprecan "to speak" (see speak). A common Germanic compound (cf. Old Saxon bisprecan, Dutch bespreken, Old High German bisprehhan, German besprechen); originally "to call out," it evolved a wide range of meaning in English, including "speak up," "oppose," "request," "discuss, "arrange," and "to order (goods)" (1580s).

The connection of the senses is very loose; some of them appear to have arisen quite independently of each other from different applications of BE- pref. [OED]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper