- the act, utterance, or discourse of a person who speaks.
- speakings, literary works composed for recitation, as ancient bardic poetry; oral literature.
- not on speaking terms, not or no longer in a relationship of open, willing, or ready communication, as because of resentment or estrangement: They had a squabble during the holidays, and now they're not on speaking terms.
- on speaking terms,
- 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
- to utter words or articulate sounds with the ordinary voice; talk: He was too ill to speak.
- to communicate vocally; mention: to speak to a person about various matters.
- to converse: She spoke with him for an hour.
- to deliver an address, discourse, etc.: to speak at a meeting.
- to make a statement in written or printed words.
- to communicate, signify, or disclose by any means; convey significance.
- 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.
- (of a computer) to express data or other information audibly by means of an audio response unit.
- to emit a sound, as a musical instrument; make a noise or report.
- Chiefly British. (of dogs) to bark when ordered.
- Fox Hunting. (of a hound or pack) to bay on finding a scent.
- to utter vocally and articulately: to speak words of praise.
- to express or make known with the voice: to speak the truth.
- to declare in writing or printing, or by any means of communication.
- to make known, indicate, or reveal.
- to use, or be able to use, in oral utterance, as a language: to speak French.
- (of a computer) to express or make known (data, prompts, etc.) by means of an audio response unit.
- Nautical. to communicate with (a passing vessel) at sea, as by voice or signal: We spoke a whaler on the fourth day at sea.
- Archaic. to speak to or with.
- speak for,
- 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.
- speak out, to express one's opinion openly and unreservedly: He was not afraid to speak out when it was something he believed in strongly.
- so to speak, to use a manner of speaking; figuratively speaking: We still don't have our heads above water, so to speak.
- speak by the book, to say with great authority or precision: I can't speak by the book, but I know this is wrong.
- speak well for, to be an indication or reflection of (something commendable); testify admirably to: Her manners speak well for her upbringing.
- to speak of, worth mentioning: The country has no mineral resources to speak of.
Origin of speak
Synonyms for speakSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for speaking
Contemporary Examples of speaking
Speaking to a local radio station today Antonella Ramelli said the video gives her hope.Jihadis Release New Year’s Eve Video of Italian Female Hostages
Jamie Dettmer, Barbie Latza Nadeau
January 2, 2015
“Mona Iraqi is responsible for 25 families losing their lives,” he said, speaking figuratively.Sisi Is Persecuting, Prosecuting, and Publicly Shaming Egypt’s Gays
December 30, 2014
Speaking of the literature you love, the Bloomsbury writers crop up in your collection repeatedly.Daphne Merkin on Lena Dunham, Book Criticism, and Self-Examination
December 26, 2014
Sometimes democracy and liberalism are about speaking up about the great issues, like a massive foreign war.A Few Great Men Too Many: Aaron Sorkin Doesn’t Think You Can Handle the Truth
December 21, 2014
Both the Republicans in Congress and the American-Cuban community in exile have been speaking out against the warming relations.Up To Speed: The Cuba Embargo
December 18, 2014
Historical Examples of speaking
Some of these bright beings are speaking, and others are silent.
I have more than once tried to deceive you, but you will feel that I am not now speaking falsely.
She heard him speaking in a voice not louder than a whisper, rapid, distinct.Way of the Lawless
I have used the words "they" and "their" in speaking of these heroes.
"Yes," said Dick, staring in front of him and speaking in a dull, even voice.Viviette
William J. Locke
- (prenominal) eloquent, impressive, or striking
- able to speak
- (in combination)able to speak a particular languageFrench-speaking
- to make (verbal utterances); utter (words)
- to communicate or express (something) in or as if in wordsI speak the truth
- (intr) to deliver a speech, discourse, etc
- (tr) to know how to talk in (a language or dialect)he does not speak German
- (intr) to make a characteristic soundthe clock spoke
- (intr) (of dogs, esp hounds used in hunting) to give tongue; bark
- (tr) nautical to hail and converse or communicate with (another vessel) at sea
- (intr) (of a musical instrument) to produce a sound
- (intr foll by for) to be a representative or advocate (of)he speaks for all the members
- on speaking terms on good terms; friendly
- so to speak in a manner of speaking; as it were
- speak one's mind to express one's opinions frankly and plainly
- to speak of of a significant or worthwhile naturewe have had no support to speak of
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").
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