\ ˈspēch How to pronounce speech (audio) \

Definition of speech

1a : the communication or expression of thoughts in spoken words
b : exchange of spoken words : conversation
2a : something that is spoken : utterance
b : a usually public discourse : address
b : an individual manner or style of speaking
4 : the power of expressing or communicating thoughts by speaking

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Examples of speech in a Sentence

She has to make a speech at the convention. a graduation speech about embracing future challenges I was so flustered that I momentarily lost the power of speech. Slang is used mostly in informal speech. Many words are more common in speech than in writing.
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Recent Examples on the Web

More, it is said, must be done to monitor neo-Nazi networks and hate speech on the web. The Economist, "German soul-searching after the murder of a champion of refugees," 5 July 2019 In response to the crisis over Russian interference on its platform, Facebook has dedicated major resources to detecting misinformation, hate speech and other violations of its standards. Elizabeth Dwoskin, Washington Post, "Facebook says private groups are its future. Some are hubs for misinformation and hate.," 5 July 2019 To be more effective, the company will dedicate some content moderators on hate speech alone. Irina Ivanova, CBS News, "Facebook details efforts to prepare for 2020 elections, Census disinformation," 1 July 2019 Taking to the stage, Gaga delivered an emotional speech with the resounding messages of love, equality, acceptance, and resilience in the face of adversity. Teen Vogue, "Lady Gaga Performs at Stonewall National Monument for WorldPride 2019," 29 June 2019 While official explanations of shutdowns are rare, some governments have attributed them to combating fake news, hate speech, or limiting violence. Abdi Latif Dahir, Quartz Africa, "Mauritania blocked the internet over protests though just one in five people are online," 28 June 2019 Vine tells a wildly amusing story of Johnson appearing at a dinner he was scheduled to speak at — late, disheveled, and completely unprepared — and then delivering a speech that bore no relation to the event but that the audience adored. Madeleine Kearns, National Review, "Boris Johnson, the Brexit Illusionist," 28 June 2019 Twitter's new decision to label tweets comes at a moment when technology companies are under immense pressure to better monitor and police their platforms for extremism, hate speech, violence and abuse. Anchorage Daily News, "Twitter adds labels for tweets that break its rules - a move with potential implications for Trump’s account," 27 June 2019 Facebook’s platform was implicated in the Myanmar government’s genocide against Rohingya Muslims, while hate speech on social networks has been linked to radicalization around the globe. Jeff Horwitz, WSJ, "Facebook’s Effort to Build an Internal Court for Content Is Far From Simple," 27 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'speech.' 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 speech

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

History and Etymology for speech

Middle English speche, from Old English sprǣc, spǣc; akin to Old English sprecan to speak — more at speak

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Statistics for speech

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for speech

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

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More Definitions for speech



English Language Learners Definition of speech

: a spoken expression of ideas, opinions, etc., that is made by someone who is speaking in front of a group of people
: the ability to speak
: spoken language


\ ˈspēch How to pronounce speech (audio) \

Kids Definition of speech

1 : the communication or expression of thoughts in spoken words
2 : something that is spoken : statement Indeed, there had been so much talk that the steward … informed one and all that such speech went against the will of God …— Avi, Crispin
3 : a public talk
4 : a form of communication (as a language or dialect) used by a particular group
5 : a way of speaking And he was quick to grasp the … rhythms of Lewis's speech and match them.— Virginia Hamilton, M. C. Higgins
6 : the ability to speak I was so surprised, I lost my speech.


\ ˈspēch How to pronounce speech (audio) \

Medical Definition of speech

: the communication or expression of thoughts in spoken words

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Legal Definition of speech

: words or conduct used to communicate or express a thought : expression — see also commercial speech, freedom of speech, free speech, obscene, symbolic speech

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More from Merriam-Webster on speech

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with speech

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for speech

Spanish Central: Translation of speech

Nglish: Translation of speech for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of speech for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about speech

Comments on speech

What made you want to look up speech? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to form ideas or theories about something

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