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 Glastonbury Youth and Family Services Director Lori LaCapra, who will speak about the mental health affects of online overload. Jesse Leavenworth, courant.com, "Glastonbury police webinar to focus on excessive screen time, Internet safety for kids," 29 Mar. 2021 There were children playing everywhere, and the younger generation who grew up in the United States would translate for their mother, who did not speak English. New York Times, "An Immigrant Family Caught Up in a Distinctly American Tragedy," 27 Mar. 2021 She’s one of several former Trump administration health officials -- and one who continues in the Biden administration, Anthony Fauci -- who’ll speak on a CNN special on Sunday night. BostonGlobe.com, "Birx says deaths ‘could have been mitigated’ last year," 27 Mar. 2021 Its oldest patient was a 107-year-old, while the initiative has also helped bridge the language barrier for those who don’t speak English, according to Rahmanian. Alyssa Newcomb, Fortune, "How Ro mobilized to launch a free in-home COVID-19 vaccination program in New York," 27 Mar. 2021 One’s community experience and identity matter, and conservatives who can speak credibly to both of those facts are candidates who can win. Elizabeth Heng, National Review, "How Republicans Can Win in California," 24 Mar. 2021 Online jail records did not indicate whether the two had an attorney who could speak for them. Curt Anderson, Star Tribune, "Deadly spring break: 3 men charged in 2 deaths in Florida," 23 Mar. 2021 Instead Araneta, a Filipina, paid attention to anecdotal stories of Filipino families buying dozens of obituaries and an uptick in requests for COVID contact tracers who speak Tagalog. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Without data, COVID-19’s impact on some San Diego minorities is overlooked, advocates say," 20 Mar. 2021 People with limited Internet access, as well as people who speak Spanish can make appointments by phone. cleveland, "Mrs. Scott is bringing sweet treats to North Ridgeville: Short Takes on Avon, Avon Lake and North Ridgeville," 20 Mar. 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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Statistics for speak

Last Updated

1 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Speak.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/speak. Accessed 10 Apr. 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

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.

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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

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