Origin of speech

before 900; Middle English speche, Old English spǣc, variant of sprǣc, derivative of sprecan to speak; cognate with German Sprache
Related formsself-speech, noun

Synonyms for speech

1. parlance, parley, conversation, communication. Speech, language refer to the means of communication used by people. Speech is the expression of ideas and thoughts by means of articulate vocal sounds, or the faculty of thus expressing ideas and thoughts. Language is a set of conventional signs, not necessarily articulate or even vocal (any set of signs, signals, or symbols that convey meaning, including written words, may be called language): a spoken language. Thus, language is the set of conventions, and speech is the action of putting these to use: He couldn't understand the speech of the natives because it was in a foreign language. 3. observation, assertion, asseveration, comment, mention, talk. 4. talk, discourse. Speech, address, oration, harangue are terms for a communication to an audience. Speech is the general word, with no implication of kind or length, or whether planned or not. An address is a rather formal, planned speech, appropriate to a particular subject or occasion. An oration is a polished, rhetorical address, given usually on a notable occasion, that employs eloquence and studied methods of delivery. A harangue is a violent, informal speech, often addressed to a casually assembled audience, and intended to arouse strong feeling (sometimes to lead to mob action). 6. tongue, patois.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for speech

Contemporary Examples of speech

Historical Examples of speech

  • It means the "science of the sound which is made by our speech."

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • But Brother Stukely had been for some time rendered incapable of speech.

  • But sweet beyond words had been this speech from the bartender.

  • On the 5th of February the king attended and delivered the speech from the throne in person.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • Among his friends his speech was anticipated with lively interest.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

British Dictionary definitions for speech



  1. the act or faculty of speaking, esp as possessed by personsto have speech with somebody
  2. (as modifier)speech therapy
that which is spoken; utterance
a talk or address delivered to an audience
a person's characteristic manner of speaking
a national or regional language or dialect
linguistics another word for parole (def. 5)

Word Origin for speech

Old English spēc; related to specan to speak
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 speech

Old English spæc "act of speaking, manner of speaking, formal utterance," variant of spræc, related to sprecan, specan "to speak" (see speak), from Proto-Germanic *sprækijo (cf. German Sprache "speech"). The spr- forms were extinct in English by 1200. Meaning "address delivered to an audience" first recorded 1580s. Speechify "talk in a pompous, pontifical way" first recorded 1723.

And I honor the man who is willing to sink
Half his present repute for the freedom to think,
And, when he has thought, be his cause strong or weak,
Will risk t' other half for the freedom to speak,
Caring naught for what vengeance the mob has in store,
Let that mob be the upper ten thousand or lower.

[James Russell Lowell, "A Fable for Critics," 1848]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

speech in Medicine




The faculty or act of expressing thoughts, feelings, or perceptions by the articulation of words.
Vocal communication; conversation.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.