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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb At the zoning board hearing, Essaibi George’s aide joined the staffers of two city councilors from South Boston — Ed Flynn and Michael Flaherty — to speak against the project. BostonGlobe.com, 29 July 2021 While big-name competitors such as gymnast Simone Biles and swimmer Katie Ledecky have publicly acknowledged being vaccinated, Andrew is the highest-profile U.S. athlete to speak against it. Nathan Fenno, Los Angeles Times, 28 July 2021 However the lack of line items in the budget and $5 million transfer that the council never approved both speak to the oversight challenges faced by the council, Dernoga said. Washington Post, 28 July 2021 There’s something beyond the ribcage-rattling drums, heart-clutching harmonies, piano solos that speak the soul’s language, haunting basslines and uplifting percussions that make an Amapiano party transcendental. Billboard, 27 July 2021 Morley was excited to see Trump speak live, especially about the influx of migrants at the border wall since Biden took over. Andrew Favakeh, The Arizona Republic, 27 July 2021 The addition of therapists to doctors’ offices will ensure families can speak to a mental health professional immediately when the need surfaces. Rory Linnane, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 27 July 2021 As my father taught me: actions speak louder than words. Ed Silverman, STAT, 27 July 2021 The characters who speak the various lines are immediately recognizable. Chris Smith, BGR, 26 July 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for speak

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near speak

spdl

speak

-speak

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Statistics for speak

Last Updated

30 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Speak.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/speak. Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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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

-speak

noun combining form

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on speak

Nglish: Translation of speak for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of speak for Arabic Speakers

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