- in a relationship close enough for or limited to friendly superficialities: I don't know the hosts well, but we are certainly on speaking terms.
- in a relationship of open, willing, or ready communication: Now that the debt has been settled, I hope you and your partner are on speaking terms again.
Origin of speaking
- able to speak
- (in combination)able to speak a particular languageFrench-speaking
on speaking terms
Friendly enough to exchange superficial remarks, as in We're on speaking terms with the new neighbors.
Ready and willing to communicate, not alienated or estranged. For example, We are on speaking terms again after the quarrel. Both senses of this idiom commonly occur in the negative, as in Brett and his brother haven't been on speaking terms for years. The idiom was first recorded in 1786.