verb (used without object), spoke or (Archaic) spake; spo·ken or (Archaic) spoke; speak·ing.
verb (used with object), spoke or (Archaic) spake; spo·ken or (Archaic) spoke; speak·ing.
- 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.
Origin of speak
Synonyms for speak
verb speaks, speaking, spoke or spoken
Word Origin for speak
Old English specan, variant of sprecan "to speak" (class V strong verb; past tense spræc, past participle sprecen), from Proto-Germanic *sprekanan (cf. Old Saxon sprecan, Old Frisian spreka, Middle Dutch spreken, Old High German sprehhan, German sprechen "to speak," Old Norse spraki "rumor, report"), cognate with Latin spargere "to strew" (speech as a "scattering" of words; see sparse).
The -r- began to drop out in Late West Saxon and was gone by mid-12c., perhaps from influence of Danish spage "crackle," in a slang sense of "speak" (cf. crack in slang senses having to do with speech, e.g. wisecrack, cracker, all it's cracked up to be). Rare variant forms without -r- also are found in Middle Dutch (speken) and Old High German (spehhan).
Not the primary word for "to speak" in Old English (the "Beowulf" author prefers maþelian, from mæþel "assembly, council," from root of metan "to meet;" cf. Greek agoreuo "to speak," originally "speak in the assembly," from agora "assembly").
so to speak
Phrased like this, in a manner of speaking, as in He was, so to speak, the head of the family, although he was only related by marriage to most of the family members. This term originally meant “in the vernacular” or “lower-class language” and was used as an aristocrat's apology for stooping to such use. [Early 1800s] Also see as it were.
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
- 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