\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


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

In addition to the Read Together Palm Beach County initiative events, the center has been the site for visits from authors James Patterson, Scott Eyman and Robert Wagner who speak to children about the importance of literacy. Kari Barnett, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County looks back on 5 years in new building," 12 July 2018 This was similar elsewhere in the country, where some who spoke with Fox News would glance over their shoulder before making a positive remark about Trump, while others would lower their voices when talking about issues to do with immigration. Adam Shaw, Fox News, "Despite anger in London, Trump finds support in England's pro-Brexit working-class towns," 12 July 2018 Strzok, who has already spoken to the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees behind closed doors, is expected to testify publicly before the panels Thursday. Anchorage Daily News, "House GOP threatens key witness in FBI probes with contempt," 12 July 2018 The robot can also communicate with people who speak all languages through its LED display screen and non-verbal interactions, Mashable reported. Lisa Marie Segarra, Fortune, "This Travel Robot Assistant Will Carry Your Bags and Show You to Your Gate," 12 July 2018 Practically, finding adequate translation services for indigenous families is often difficult and leaves them with few avenues to access social services or interact in family court, often represented by someone who doesn’t speak the same language. Rory Taylor, Teen Vogue, "The Current Border Crisis Feels All Too Familiar for Indigenous Peoples in the United States," 12 July 2018 Particularly for women who may not speak or understand English well, conversations with sidewalk counselors can add to their confusion. Lauren Rankin, SELF, "It’s Legal for Crisis Pregnancy Centers in California to Lie to You About Abortion," 11 July 2018 Nearly all of the experts who spoke with STAT said the deal wasn’t likely a signal of a larger shift toward price drops. Erin Mershon, STAT, "What Pfizer, Trump, and consumers got out of a surprising deal — and what they didn’t," 11 July 2018 A few days later, Blair posted a video encouraging her followers to search for the woman involved, who did not speak to media as of Tuesday. Gina Martinez, Time, "''Wrong on Many Levels.' Woman Behind #Planebae Apologizes for Viral Tweets About Those Two Passengers," 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

1 Nov 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).


playful or foolish behavior

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