speak

verb
\ ˈspēk How to pronounce speak (audio) \
spoke\ ˈspōk How to pronounce speak (audio) \; spoken\ ˈspō-​kən How to pronounce speak (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 entry 3
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 -speak (audio) \ adjective

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 The first was a desire to speak anonymously, given the power of the SNP. Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, "Scotland’s Feminist Schism," 5 May 2021 Those who wish to speak must register by 3 p.m. Thursday online or by calling 414-475-8200. Rory Linnane, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "MPS budget proposal, buoyed by referendum, expands programs while enrollment declines," 4 May 2021 Cheney may well be sacrificing her own political career as one of the few GOP lawmakers with the guts to speak truth about Trump's anti-democratic attacks. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "The GOP's devotion to Trump threatens to destroy American democracy," 4 May 2021 Biden wore a black mask to the lectern, then took it off to speak. Paul Elie, The New Yorker, "Mask Mandates Are Easing, but the Way We Look at Faces Has Changed Forever," 4 May 2021 The agency is still working on the authorization, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak freely. Washington Post, "Covid-19 live updates India cracks 20 million coronavirus cases as infections spread," 4 May 2021 Some members of the public seeking to voice their opposition were not given the opportunity to speak, though speakers from both sides of the debate were given equal time. Bryan Anderson, Star Tribune, "N Carolina GOP advances bill to ban Down syndrome abortions," 4 May 2021 After attempts to speak to the man were unsuccessful, officers entered the residence and located a man in the bedroom who was armed with a handgun. Amy Lavalley, chicagotribune.com, "Valparaiso man killed in South Haven standoff with police," 3 May 2021 Garrett was not made available to speak to reporters after the benches-clearing incident. Bobby Nightengale, The Enquirer, "David Bell after Cubs' comments on Amir Garrett: 'They don’t know anything about our team'," 2 May 2021

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

Time Traveler for speak

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for speak

Last Updated

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Speak.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/speak. Accessed 9 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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

Choose the Right Synonym for speak

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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on speak

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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

Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

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!