speak

verb
\ ˈspēk How to pronounce speak (audio) \
spoke\ ˈspōk How to pronounce spoke (audio) \; spoken\ ˈspō-​kən How to pronounce spoken (audio) \; speaking

Definition of speak

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to utter words or articulate sounds with the ordinary voice : talk
b(1) : to express thoughts, opinions, or feelings orally
(2) : to extend a greeting
(3) : to be friendly enough to engage in conversation still were not speaking after the dispute
c(1) : to express oneself before a group
(2) : to address one's remarks speak to the issue
2a : to make a written statement his diaries … spoke … of his entrancement with death— Sy Kahn
b : to use such an expression often used in the phrase so to speak was at the enemy's gates, so to speak— C. S. Forester
c : to serve as spokesperson
3a : to express feelings by other than verbal means actions speak louder than words
b : signal
c : to be interesting or attractive : appeal great music … speaks directly to the emotions— A. N. Whitehead
4 : to make a request or claim used with for usually used in passive constructions the seat was already spoken for
5 : to make a characteristic or natural sound all at once the thunder spoke— George Meredith
6a : testify
b : to be indicative or suggestive his gold … spoke of riches in the land— Julian Dana

transitive verb

1a(1) : to utter with the speaking voice : pronounce
(2) : to give a recitation of : declaim
b : to express orally : declare free to speak their minds
c : address, accost especially : hail
2 : to make known in writing : state
3 : to use or be able to use in speaking speaks Spanish
4 : to indicate by other than verbal means
5 archaic : describe, depict
to speak of
: worthy of mention or notice usually used in negative constructions no progress to speak of
\ ˌspēk\

Definition of -speak (Entry 2 of 2)

used to form especially nonce words denoting a particular kind of jargon Californiaspeak

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from speak

Verb

speakable \ ˈspē-​kə-​bəl How to pronounce speakable (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for speak

Verb

speak, talk, and converse mean to express in words. speak is used of anything said, whether it is understood or not and whether it is heard or not. We didn't know what language they were speaking. talk is used when there is a listener who understands what is said and often when both people do some speaking. We talked about school. converse is used for the exchange of thoughts and opinions. The scientists conversed about traveling in space.

Examples of speak in a Sentence

Verb

Have you two spoken since yesterday? She and I spoke this morning. He never speaks at the meetings. Without speaking, she walked from the room. They were speaking in Japanese. When I said you were my best friend, I was speaking sincerely. She must be speaking the truth. Not a word was spoken between them the whole time. He has laryngitis and can't speak. She speaks with a Southern accent.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Consumers are getting the short end of the stick so to speak. Chicago Tribune, Lake County News-Sun, "Talk of the County: With DNA evidence, reinstate death penalty," 10 June 2019 Americans may again see something that, statistically speaking, has never been seen before. Brendan Lind, The Conversation, "The most unpopular presidential election winner ever could win again in 2020," 10 June 2019 Which, speaking of, another future work perk for the mother of three? Blair Donovan, Country Living, "This Is How Gwen Stefani Really Feels About Replacing Adam Levine on 'The Voice'," 9 June 2019 Though some researchers describe the study as a prevention trial, Herold hastens to point out that, strictly speaking, it was designed to test delay of disease onset, not prevention. Jennifer Couzin-frankel, Science | AAAS, "In milestone trial, experimental drug delays type 1 diabetes," 9 June 2019 To speak of one nation dominating now feels almost a category error, since the squads of the world’s best clubs comprise multiple nationalities. 1843, "A league of their own: how English clubs conquered Europe," 7 June 2019 Reimagining Baltimore: Schools invite students to help Baltimore is offering a challenging curriculum that speaks directly to students’ lives and may help them write a positive new narrative for the city. Christian Science Monitor, "© The Christian Science Monitor.," 7 June 2019 She’s well-spoken but also whimsical, business-minded but a little eccentric. John Carlisle, Freep.com, "LAND OF THE LOST Irish Hills tourist stop owner aims to restore dinosaur park," 6 June 2019 Red Oak Lavender Farm 5th Annual Lavender Festival Is Coming This June 15th Atlanta's Fox 5 recently took a trip to the butterfly farm to tour the premises and speak with owner Jo Ann Goldenburg. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Southern Living, "Dahlonega, Georgia Just Welcomed the Most Magical Butterfly Farm in the South," 6 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'speak.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of speak

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for speak

Verb

Middle English speken, from Old English sprecan, specan; akin to Old High German sprehhan to speak, Greek spharageisthai to crackle

Noun combining form

newspeak

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about speak

Dictionary Entries near speak

spd

SPD

spdl

speak

-speak

speak down

speakeasy

Statistics for speak

Last Updated

14 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for speak

The first known use of speak was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for speak

speak

verb

English Language Learners Definition of speak

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to say words in order to express your thoughts, feelings, opinions, etc., to someone : to talk to someone
: to talk about a particular subject or person
: to say words to express yourself in a particular way

English Language Learners Definition of -speak (Entry 2 of 2)

used to form words that refer to the special languages or words used for particular activities or by particular groups

speak

verb
\ ˈspēk How to pronounce speak (audio) \
spoke\ ˈspōk \; spoken\ ˈspō-​kən \; speaking

Kids Definition of speak

1 : to utter words : talk He speaks too fast.
2 : to utter in words Does he speak the truth?
3 : to mention in speech or writing She spoke of being ill.
4 : to use or be able to use in talking Can you speak Spanish?
speak out
: to express an opinion openly
speak up
1 : to speak loudly and clearly
2 : to express an opinion openly

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on speak

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with speak

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for speak

Spanish Central: Translation of speak

Nglish: Translation of speak for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of speak for Arabic Speakers

Comments on speak

What made you want to look up speak? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to take the place or position of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!