\ ˈspēk \
spoke\ˈspōk \; spoken\ˈspō-kən \; 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

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Other words from speak


speakable \ˈspē-kə-bəl \ adjective

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.

Examples of speak in a Sentence


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly until the trade is officially announced. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "Atlanta Hawks land Jeremy Lin from Brooklyn Nets," 13 July 2018 The person, who was notified of the decision but wasn't authorized to speak publicly, was not aware of any plans to change the pizza chain's name. Houston Chronicle, "Louisville football stadium removing Papa John's name," 13 July 2018 The decision was made by top executives but details of the change have not been worked out, according to a person inside the company with knowledge of the decision who wasn't authorized to speak publicly. Candace Choi, Cincinnati.com, "Papa John's to pull founder from marketing after racial slur reports," 13 July 2018 May 23, 2018 Investigators identified the 12 individuals in the indictment more than a year ago, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation who was not authorized to speak publicly about it. Mark Mazzetti, New York Times, "12 Russian Agents Indicted in Mueller Investigation," 13 July 2018 In doing so, the monkeys became the first of their genus and the fourth of all nonhuman primates to enter the Stone Age, so to speak. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Did the Human Hand Evolve as a Lean Mean Bone-Smashing Machine?," 13 July 2018 Those sources asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak for the company. Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Dilliard's department store chain could enter Milwaukee area by buying Boston Store sites," 11 July 2018 Detectives posted fake ads on websites known to advertise prostitution and the men who called the number listed on the ad spoke with an undercover female officer who provided a meeting location, police said. Jess Nocera, Howard County Times, "Six men accused by Howard police of trying to hire prostitutes," 11 July 2018 Luc Mbah a Moute has agreed to a one-year, $4.3-million deal to return to the Clippers, according to NBA officials who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. Broderick Turner, latimes.com, "Clippers agree to deal with Luc Mbah a Moute," 10 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of speak


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

History and Etymology for speak


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

Noun combining form


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Dictionary Entries near speak





speak down



Statistics for speak

Last Updated

20 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for speak

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

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More Definitions for speak



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


\ ˈspēk \
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

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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).


an open space surrounded by woods

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