1 of 3

noun (1)

plural specks
: a small discoloration or spot especially from stain or decay
: a very small amount : bit
: something marked or marred with specks
specked adjective


2 of 3


specked; specking; specks

transitive verb

: to mark (something or someone) with or as if with specks : speckle
High up against the horizon were the huge conical masses of hill … with sombre greenish sides visibly specked with sheep …George Eliot
… the strange little figure there gazing at me, with a white face and arms specking the gloom … had the effect of a real spirit …Charlotte Brontë


3 of 3

noun (2)

: a cold-smoked Italian ham that is flavored with herbs and spices such as juniper, black pepper, and garlic
Speck, like prosciutto, is a salt- and air-cured and aged pork hind leg. Unlike prosciutto, speck is cold-smoked, which makes it rare among Italian cured meats.Allison Batdorff
Speck is deeply red and more firm in texture than prosciutto. Since it's a cured meat, it can be sliced thin and eaten raw in an antipasti platter, wrapped around sweet fruits, or layered on sandwiches.Emma Christensen
Diaphanous sheets of speck and pucks of fried trotters are piled onto picturesque salumi platters.Garrett Snyder
By the time Roman agronomist Cato the Elder wrote his famous treatise on agriculture around 160 BC, the techniques for salt-curing ham he describes were well established, the precursor of today's prosciutto and speck.Steven Raichlen

Examples of speck in a Sentence

Noun (1) There was not a speck of dust anywhere. Soon the balloon was only a speck in the sky. She writes without a speck of humor. Verb dirt that had specked the windows of the factory for ages
Recent Examples on the Web
Confetti sweaters are unique with their specks of color, or in other cases, embellishments. Alyssa Grabinski, Peoplemag, 29 Nov. 2023 Suddenly, a bubble of orange flashed around the rocket, which was, by this point, barely a star-like speck in the sky. Stephen Clark, Ars Technica, 18 Nov. 2023 Impressive beaches with impossibly clear water are the main draw to this speck of an island. Carley Rojas Avila, Travel + Leisure, 10 Nov. 2023 But beyond the well-trodden coastline of Mauritius, this may be the year its little sister, Rodrigues, a speck of an island an hour-and-a-half flight east, gets its due. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, 15 Nov. 2023 Now she’s finally settled on a new Los Angeles base, having doled out a speck over $3.7 million for a secluded midcentury modern residence in the Crestwood Hills neighborhood of Brentwood. Wendy Bowman, Robb Report, 5 Oct. 2023 Their mostly leftist movement is a fringe one, a relative speck of cooperation in a land where ethnic and territorial strife is once again reaching a crescendo. Alexander Smith, NBC News, 27 Oct. 2023 Using a machine that accelerates particles, researchers analyzed the chemical makeup of a tiny speck of paint hidden in the corner of the painting. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 13 Oct. 2023 His footprint was found in the shower, and blood stains in the apartment, including a speck on the bathroom floor, contained his DNA, Fox said. David Hernandez, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 Oct. 2023
The 656-foot vessel, called the Golden Ray, has been lying since early September off a slice of the Georgia coast specked with resorts and sprawling high-dollar homes. New York Times, 16 Nov. 2019 Now, their territory has fewer than 1,000 residents and consists of about 7,300 acres, with roads wandering through woods specked with modest family homes. New York Times, 22 June 2018 For all its strengths, though, the series proves a bit of a slog, at times, as the wheels turn along the dusty, blood-specked road to wherever this maze leads. Brian Lowry, CNN, 19 Apr. 2018 To get into the spirit, order a ginger beer and rock shrimp fritters, fried balls of doughy goodness specked with bell pepper and spices that come steaming hot with a side of spicy mayo. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, 12 Feb. 2018 Moonchild is specked with obvious glitter, which could be a deterrent for some. Devon Abelman, Allure, 15 Sep. 2017 The majority of it, however, was specked with red SALE signs, noting that the red, white, and blue a-line miniskirt was 40 percent off (from $80 to $53.40) and white sculpting mid-rise skinny jeans (from $89 to $36.60). Emily Jane Fox, The Hive, 10 Aug. 2017 See More

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

Word History


Noun (1)

Middle English specke, from Old English specca


derivative of speck entry 1

Noun (2)

borrowed from a regional German (South Tyrol/Alto Adige) form of German Speck "bacon, bacon fat, blubber," going back to Old High German spec, going back to Germanic *spika- (whence also Old English spic "fat meat, bacon," Old Saxon spek, Middle Dutch spec, Old Icelandic spik "blubber"), probably going back to Indo-European *spig-, whence also, from Indo-Iranian *sphig-, Sanskrit sphij-, sphik "hip, buttock," Khotanese phajsai "his rump" (with secondary a from i), Ossetic syʒ/siʒæ "backside, bottom"

Note: The Indo-Iranian etymon has been taken as *sp(h)h1-g-, a root extension from the verbal base *speh1- "thrive, prosper" (see speed entry 1), though this would exclude the connection with Germanic *spika-. Alternatively, both the Germanic and Indo-Iranian have been seen as outcomes of an original paradigm *sphh1i-ég-, *sphh1i-g-ós, with the verb *speh1- taken as *spheh1i̯-. For details see M. Mayrhofer, Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindoarischen, 2. Band, p. 777; J. Rasmussen, Studien zur Morphophonemik der Indogermanischen Grundsprache (Innsbruck, 1989), pp. 38-39, 62; H.W. Bailey, Dictionary of Khotan Saka (Cambridge, 1979), p. 259.

First Known Use

Noun (1)

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


14th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1975, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near speck

Cite this Entry

“Speck.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/speck. Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: a small spot or blemish
: a very small amount : bit
just a speck more milk


2 of 2 verb
: to make specks on or in

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