noun, plural speak·eas·ies.

a saloon or nightclub selling alcoholic beverages illegally, especially during Prohibition.

Origin of speakeasy

An Americanism dating back to 1885–90; speak + easy
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for speakeasies

Contemporary Examples of speakeasies

Historical Examples of speakeasies

  • Maybe the machine covered only the area around the various banks, speakeasies, bars and horse parlors.

    The Old Die Rich

    Horace Leonard Gold

British Dictionary definitions for speakeasies


noun plural -easies

US a place where alcoholic drink was sold illicitly during Prohibition

Word Origin for speakeasy

C19: from speak + easy (in the sense: gently, quietly)
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 speakeasies



"unlicensed saloon," 1889 (in New York "Voice"), from speak + easy; so called from the practice of speaking quietly about such a place in public, or when inside it, so as not to alert the police and neighbors. The word gained wide currency in U.S. during Prohibition (1920-1932). In early 19c. Irish and British dialect, a speak softly shop meant "smuggler's den."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper