View synonyms for speak



[ speek ]

verb (used without object)

, spoke or (Archaic) spake [speyk]; 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.

  3. to converse:

    She spoke with him for an hour.

  4. to deliver an address, discourse, etc.:

    to speak at a meeting.

  5. to make a statement in written or printed words.
  6. to communicate, signify, or disclose something by any means; convey significance:

    The voters have spoken loud and clear.

  7. 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.
  8. (of a computer) to express data or other information audibly by means of an audio response unit.
  9. to emit a sound, as a musical instrument; make a noise or report.
  10. Chiefly British. (of dogs) to bark when ordered.
  11. Fox Hunting. (of a hound or pack) to bay on finding a scent.

verb (used with object)

, spoke or (Archaic) spake [speyk]; spo·ken or (Archaic) spoke; speak·ing.
  1. to utter vocally and articulately:

    to speak words of praise.

    Synonyms: articulate, pronounce

  2. to express or make known with the voice:

    to speak the truth.

    Synonyms: say

  3. to declare in writing or printing, or by any means of communication.
  4. to make known, indicate, or reveal.

    Synonyms: disclose

  5. to use, or be able to use, in oral utterance, as a language:

    to speak French.

  6. (of a computer) to express or make known (data, prompts, etc.) by means of an audio response unit.
  7. Nautical. to communicate with (a passing vessel) at sea, as by voice or signal:

    We spoke a whaler on the fourth day at sea.

  8. Archaic. to speak to or with.

verb phrase

  1. to express one's opinion openly and unreservedly:

    He was not afraid to speak out when it was something he believed in strongly.

    1. to intercede for or recommend; speak in behalf of.
    2. to express or articulate the views of; represent.
    3. to choose or prefer; have reserved for oneself:

      This item is already spoken for.

    1. to address or respond to, as in speech or action:

      The legislature must speak to the issue of gun violence.

    2. to be appealing or relevant to:

      His music speaks to me on a very deep level.

    3. to provide evidence for:

      Our company’s rapid growth speaks to the passion and commitment of our employees.


  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.



/ spiːk /


  1. to make (verbal utterances); utter (words)
  2. to communicate or express (something) in or as if in words

    I speak the truth

  3. intr to deliver a speech, discourse, etc
  4. tr to know how to talk in (a language or dialect)

    he does not speak German

  5. intr to make a characteristic sound

    the clock spoke

  6. intr (of dogs, esp hounds used in hunting) to give tongue; bark
  7. tr nautical to hail and converse or communicate with (another vessel) at sea
  8. intr (of a musical instrument) to produce a sound
  9. intrfoll byfor to be a representative or advocate (of)

    he speaks for all the members

  10. on speaking terms
    on good terms; friendly
  11. so to speak
    in a manner of speaking; as it were
  12. speak one's mind
    to express one's opinions frankly and plainly
  13. to speak of
    of a significant or worthwhile nature

    we have had no support to speak of



suffix forming nouns

  1. informal.
    the language or jargon of a specific group, organization, or field


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Derived Forms

  • ˈspeakable, adjective

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Other Words From

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

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Word History and Origins

Origin of speak1

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

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Word History and Origins

Origin of speak1

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

Origin of speak2

C20: formed on the pattern of newspeak

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Idioms and Phrases

  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.

  3. speak well for, to be an indication or reflection of (something commendable); testify admirably to:

    Her manners speak well for her upbringing.

  4. to speak of, worth mentioning:

    The country has no mineral resources to speak of.

More idioms and phrases containing speak

  • 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

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Synonym Study

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.

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Example Sentences

Other researchers decoded speech from the brain signals of a paralyzed man who is unable to speak.

Every time she talks to a caller the connection feels real, even if it’s with someone she’ll never speak to again.

Over the years, I’ve spoken with some helmet companies that are wary of adding a rotational-energy standard to the test, because there are disagreements over methodology.

While Somali and Oromo may not be among the most-spoken languages in the state – or even the county – there are many residents who speak those languages in San Diego, home to the largest populations of those groups in the state.

“I was confused,” says the doctor, who requested anonymity because his employer will not allow him to speak to the media.

So we do demand justice and we do speak up and make demands.

Or has the see and hear and speak-no-evil stance of the Republican House persuaded him that he is in the clear?

“We met the smuggler in the train station; he came to speak with us about the services he provided,” Yazbek says.

He disagrees, though, and says it is the duty of every person—men, especially—to speak up on this issue.

They were born in 51 countries and speak 59 foreign languages, but they seemed bound by a single purpose and resolve.

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

Now first we shall want our pupil to understand, speak, read and write the mother tongue well.

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.

Since this is a law of vibration, it is unscientific to speak of giving an overtone, for all tones contain overtones.

When we speak against one capital vice, we ought to speak against its opposite; the middle betwixt both is the point for virtue.


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More About Speak

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.”

Did you know ... ?

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

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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




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