[spoh-kuh n]


a past participle of speak.


uttered or expressed by speaking; oral (opposed to written): the spoken word.
speaking, or using speech, as specified (usually used in combination): fair-spoken; plain-spoken; soft-spoken.

Nearby words

  1. spoilsport,
  2. spoilt,
  3. spokane,
  4. spoke,
  5. spoke-dog,
  6. spoken for,
  7. spokeshave,
  8. spokesman,
  9. spokesmodel,
  10. spokesperson



verb (used without object), spoke or (Archaic) spake; spo·ken or (Archaic) spoke; speak·ing.

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.

verb (used with object), spoke or (Archaic) spake; spo·ken or (Archaic) spoke; speak·ing.

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.

Verb Phrases

speak for,
  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.
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.

Origin of speak

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

1. 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. 12. pronounce, articulate. 13. say. 15. disclose.

Related formsspeak·a·ble, adjectivespeak·a·ble·ness, nounspeak·a·bly, adverb

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for spoken

British Dictionary definitions for spoken



the past participle of speak


uttered through the medium of speechCompare written
(in combination) having speech as specifiedsoft-spoken
spoken for engaged, reserved, or allocated


verb speaks, speaking, spoke or spoken

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

Derived Formsspeakable, adjective

Word Origin for speak

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

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 spoken
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with spoken


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

also see:

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