\ 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 The meeting with the speech therapist morphed into a debate about whether the visit was needed. Bryce Miller Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Former Padres sparkplug Tim Flannery speaks on serious health fight," 20 Nov. 2020 Facebook and Twitter have to enforce some uncomfortable rules in countries like Singapore, Turkey, and Thailand—basically banning speech that criticizes the authorities. Steven Levy, Wired, "The Tenuous Promise of the Substack Dream," 20 Nov. 2020 In a concession speech following his 34-vote loss to Garcia, ousted incumbent Jose Javier Rodriguez noted a third-party candidate who shared his last name won more than 6,000 votes without even hosting a campaign website. Spencer Neale, Washington Examiner, "Florida prosecutors investigating 'shadowy' third-party candidate after razor-thin Florida Senate race: Report," 20 Nov. 2020 Written in the most glorious prose, its beat and buoyancy is delivered by Dominic Hoffman, a master at capturing the rhythm of backchat and in rendering Brooklynese, Southern and Spanish speech. Washington Post, "Best audiobooks of 2020," 19 Nov. 2020 If nothing else, Mr. Unlimited's acceptance speech would probably be an all-timer. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Seahawks QB Russell Wilson still may not get his first MVP vote in 2020, and this is why," 19 Nov. 2020 Heaney provided the coda to Biden’s acceptance speech at August’s virtual Democratic National Convention. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "What Now?," 19 Nov. 2020 The most straightforward solution would have been to adopt it as a form of government speech, explicitly endorsing its message. Victor Luckerson, The New Yorker, "The Defacement and Destruction of Black Lives Matter Murals," 19 Nov. 2020 The company estimates that hate speech content accounts for 0.11% of all content views on the service. Kurt Wagner, Bloomberg.com, "Facebook Labeled 167 Million User Posts for Covid Misinformation," 19 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for speech

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for speech

Last Updated

24 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Speech.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/speech. Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for speech


How to pronounce speech (audio)

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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