\ ˈspēd How to pronounce speed (audio) \

Definition of speed

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : rate of motion: such as
(2) : the magnitude of a velocity irrespective of direction
b : the act or state of moving swiftly : swiftness
2 : swiftness or rate of performance or action : velocity sense 3a
3a : the sensitivity of a photographic film, plate, or paper expressed numerically
b : the time during which a camera shutter is open
c : the light-gathering power of a lens or optical system
4 : a transmission gear in automotive vehicles or bicycles usually used in combinationa ten-speed bicycle
5 : someone or something that appeals to one's taste just my speed
6 : methamphetamine also : a related stimulant drug and especially an amphetamine
7 archaic : prosperity in an undertaking : success
at speed
chiefly British
up to speed
: operating at full effectiveness or potential


sped\ ˈsped How to pronounce sped (audio) \ or speeded; speeding

Definition of speed (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to make haste sped to her bedside
b : to go or drive at excessive or illegal speed
2 : to move, work, or take place faster : accelerate the heart speeds up
3a archaic : to prosper in an undertaking
b archaic : get along, fare

transitive verb

1a : to cause to move quickly : hasten
b : to increase the speed of : accelerate
c : to wish Godspeed to
2a : to further the success of
b archaic : to cause or help to prosper : aid
3 : to send out speed an arrow

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Other Words from speed


speedster \ ˈspēd-​stər How to pronounce speedster (audio) \ noun


speeder noun

Choose the Right Synonym for speed


haste, hurry, speed, expedition, dispatch mean quickness in movement or action. haste applies to personal action and implies urgency and precipitancy and often rashness. marry in haste hurry often has a strong suggestion of agitated bustle or confusion. in the hurry of departure she forgot her toothbrush speed suggests swift efficiency in movement or action. exercises to increase your reading speed expedition and dispatch both imply speed and efficiency in handling affairs but expedition stresses ease or efficiency of performance and dispatch stresses promptness in concluding matters. the case came to trial with expedition paid bills with dispatch

Examples of speed in a Sentence

Noun This instrument measures wind speed. The machine was operating at high speed. traveling at nearly the speed of light Under the right conditions the car can reach speeds over 200 miles an hour. The vehicle maintained a speed of 40 miles per hour. The work was done with remarkable speed. This computer works at a much faster processing speed than my old one. The machine chops up tree branches and leaves with speed and ease. Verb A group of kids sped past us on their bikes. They jumped in the car and sped away. A car was speeding down the street. An ambulance sped her to the hospital. I got pulled over twice last month because I was speeding on the highway.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Flying forward at full speed, Hooker lowered his body, aimed his shoulder pads at Westbrook’s waist and drove through the receiver's hips. Joel A. Erickson, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Why Matt Eberflus uses a tackling technique you probably haven't heard of," 20 Nov. 2019 And for people who share an interest and aptitude for life at that speed. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, "Carolyn Hax: A sister wants to get past her ‘Marcia, Marcia, Marcia’ moment," 20 Nov. 2019 Jio has been a key enabler of India’s data revolution with its offerings of free voice calls and affordable, high-speed data. Niharika Sharma, Quartz India, "Jio giveth India its data revolution. Now Jio taketh away?," 20 Nov. 2019 After analyzing high-speed video and data from scores of sensors, engineers concluded a small amount of propellant leaked into a helium pressurization line during pre-test processing. William Harwood, CBS News, "In major milestone, SpaceX test fires Crew Dragon abort engines," 13 Nov. 2019 Gallium compounds, for example, are critical to highly sensitive new radar systems that the U.S. Navy plans to deploy in order to enable commanders to track high-speed weapons being developed by China and Russia. Christopher R. O'dea, National Review, "Mike Pompeo’s View of China," 7 Nov. 2019 For them, the initiative meant pouring funds into an expensive new project with unknown results at an aggressive speed. Danielle Wiener-bronner, CNN, "At McDonald's, an abrupt change in leadership has investors wondering what's next," 5 Nov. 2019 The Poland international drove Napoli forward, picking up the ball from deep and moving it vertically and effectively at great speed. SI.com, "Roma 2-1 Napoli: Report, Ratings & Reaction as I Giallorossi Hold on to Earn Valuable 3 Points," 2 Nov. 2019 Expect a slower game for both teams Saturday after the Nets were involved in a boat race with the high-speed Rockets last night. Chris Wassel, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Nets-Pistons odds: Brooklyn given upper-hand in Detroit," 2 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But what’s gotten less attention, in recent years, is that many Democratic governors, who could be slowing these national trends, are also speeding oil and gas production. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "Why Are Democratic Governors Still Doing Favors for the Oil Industry?," 22 Nov. 2019 Houser speeds off down the block before stopping and getting out of his car. oregonlive, "Portland protester arrested a year after viral video shows attack on Lexus as it drove through demonstration," 22 Nov. 2019 The judge found Njuguna was speeding, tailgating, and weaving dangerously for about seven minutes before crashing into Clardy’s parked cruiser on the Pike in Charlton, where the trooper had pulled over another driver. BostonGlobe.com, "Man convicted of manslaughter in crash that killed Trooper Thomas Clardy faces sentencing - The Boston Globe," 21 Nov. 2019 The systems can also speed up the process of reuniting families. The Economist, "Give every child a legal identity," 19 Nov. 2019 The news cycle is speeding up, which means so is the palace’s response, which means a whole scandal can fit into one episode, which means there’s room in the season for more drama. Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, "The Crown Is Back and More Addictive Than Ever," 18 Nov. 2019 When Skokie Police tried pull him over for a traffic violation, Pitts sped off, triggering a high-speed chase. Marie Fazio, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago man serving federal gun sentence in Skokie police chase charged with murder in two 2015 Far North Side killings," 15 Nov. 2019 The two do sped-up, makeup transformations and goof around out of drag. Ryan Kost, SFChronicle.com, "How to go viral on TikTok, the app you need to know now," 14 Nov. 2019 Computer simulations can speed up both test cases in simulations and the calculation of what those test cases should be to begin with. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Water Is Really Hard and Expensive to Split. These Guys Might Have a Solution.," 8 Nov. 2019

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

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First Known Use of speed


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 7


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 3a

History and Etymology for speed


Middle English spede, from Old English spēd; akin to Old High German spuot prosperity, speed, Old English spōwan to succeed, Latin spes hope, Lithuanian spėti to be in time

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Learn More about speed

Time Traveler for speed

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for speed

Last Updated

25 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Speed.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/at%20speed. Accessed 5 December 2019.

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More Definitions for speed


How to pronounce speed (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of speed

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the rate at which someone or something moves or travels
: the rate at which something happens or is done
: the quality of being quick



English Language Learners Definition of speed (Entry 2 of 2)

: to move fast
: to move (someone or something) somewhere very quickly
: to drive faster than the legal speed limit


\ ˈspēd How to pronounce speed (audio) \

Kids Definition of speed

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : quickness in movement or action
2 : rate of moving or doing a speed of 100 miles an hour


sped\ ˈsped \ or speeded; speeding

Kids Definition of speed (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to move or cause to move fast : hurry
2 : to go or drive at too high a rate of movement I got a ticket for speeding.
3 : to increase the rate of an action or movement How can we speed this process?
speed up
: to move more quickly


\ ˈspēd How to pronounce speed (audio) \

Medical Definition of speed

: methamphetamine also : a related stimulant drug and especially an amphetamine

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More from Merriam-Webster on speed

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for speed

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with speed

Spanish Central: Translation of speed

Nglish: Translation of speed for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of speed for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about speed

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