speak

1 of 2

verb

spoke ˈspōk How to pronounce speak (audio) ; spoken ˈspō-kən How to pronounce speak (audio) ; speaking

intransitive verb

1
a
: 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
2
a
: to make a written statement
his diaries … spoke … of his entrancement with deathSy Kahn
b
: to use such an expression
often used in the phrase so to speak
was at the enemy's gates, so to speakC. S. Forester
c
: to serve as spokesperson
3
a
: 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 emotionsA. 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 spokeGeorge Meredith
6
a
b
: to be indicative or suggestive
his gold … spoke of riches in the landJulian Dana

transitive verb

1
a(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
speakable adjective

-speak

2 of 2

noun combining form

ˌspēk
used to form especially nonce words denoting a particular kind of jargon
Californiaspeak
Phrases
to speak of
: worthy of mention or notice
usually used in negative constructions
no progress to speak of

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
As a result, many people who would previously have been institutionalized—those who can’t speak, for example, or move most of their body—are able to communicate and use the internet. S. I. Rosenbaum, The Atlantic, 7 Apr. 2024 President Joe Biden, who spoke with Andrés last week, expressed outrage over the World Central Kitchen deaths. David Jackson, USA TODAY, 7 Apr. 2024 Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, leading to a loss of muscle control that often leaves patients prisoners in their own bodies, unable to move, speak, swallow and, eventually, even breathe. Dave Quinn, Peoplemag, 6 Apr. 2024 Those who spoke at Garcia’s sentencing told harrowing stories of assault, coercion and brutality during the hours-long shoots, when many wept, bled, vomited, cried out in pain or begged for the filming to stop — scenes that were carefully edited from the final video. Sonja Sharp, Los Angeles Times, 6 Apr. 2024 Most relatives and friends of the murder victims spoke on the condition of anonymity, concerned that the killers might win new pardons and come after them. Milana Mazaeva, New York Times, 6 Apr. 2024 Several speakers followed, including representatives from Building Homes for Heroes, Chase Bank, Gosar and Hall. Hall, who is a Vietnam War veteran, spoke at the ceremony, thanking Sampson for his service and welcoming him to the Surprise area. Alexandra Hardle, The Arizona Republic, 6 Apr. 2024 Feyre and her family live in a land that is definitely probably not England in an unspecified time where voting seems not to exist, but women can speak in public without being burned at the stake. Ct Jones, Rolling Stone, 6 Apr. 2024 Donald and McVay spoke at length the day after the playoff loss. Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times, 26 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'speak.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

Verb

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near speak

Cite this Entry

“Speak.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/speak. Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

speak

verb
spoke ˈspōk How to pronounce speak (audio) ; spoken ˈspō-kən How to pronounce speak (audio) ; speaking
1
: to utter words : talk
2
: to utter in words
speak the truth
3
: to mention in speech or writing
spoke of being ill
4
: to serve as spokesperson
spoke for the group
5
: to express feelings in ways other than by words
actions speak louder than words
6
: to use or be able to use in talking
speaks Spanish
speakable adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on speak

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