\ˈspēd \

Definition of speed 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 archaic : prosperity in an undertaking : success

2a : the act or state of moving swiftly : swiftness

b : rate of motion: such as

(1) : velocity sense 1

(2) : the magnitude of a velocity irrespective of direction

c : impetus

3 : swiftness or rate of performance or action : velocity sense 3a

4a : the sensitivity of a photographic film, plate, or paper expressed numerically

b : the light-gathering power of a lens or optical system

c : the time during which a camera shutter is open

5 : a transmission gear in automotive vehicles or bicycles usually used in combination a ten-speed bicycle

6 : someone or something that appeals to one's taste just my speed

7 : methamphetamine also : a related stimulant drug and especially an amphetamine

at speed
chiefly British
up to speed

: operating at full effectiveness or potential


sped\ˈsped \ or speeded; speeding

Definition of speed (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a archaic : to prosper in an undertaking

b archaic : get along, fare

2a : to make haste sped to her bedside

b : to go or drive at excessive or illegal speed

3 : to move, work, or take place faster : accelerate the heart speeds up

transitive verb

1a archaic : to cause or help to prosper : aid

b : to further the success of

2a : to cause to move quickly : hasten

b : to wish Godspeed to

c : to increase the speed of : accelerate

3 : to send out speed an arrow

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Other Words from speed


speedster \ˈspēd-​stər \ noun


speeder noun

Choose the Right Synonym for speed


haste, hurry, speed, expedition, dispatch mean quickness in movement or action. haste applies to personal action and implies urgency and precipitancy and often rashness. marry in haste hurry often has a strong suggestion of agitated bustle or confusion. in the hurry of departure she forgot her toothbrush speed suggests swift efficiency in movement or action. exercises to increase your reading speed expedition and dispatch both imply speed and efficiency in handling affairs but expedition stresses ease or efficiency of performance and dispatch stresses promptness in concluding matters. the case came to trial with expedition paid bills with dispatch

Examples of speed in a Sentence


This instrument measures wind speed. The machine was operating at high speed. traveling at nearly the speed of light Under the right conditions the car can reach speeds over 200 miles an hour. The vehicle maintained a speed of 40 miles per hour. The work was done with remarkable speed. This computer works at a much faster processing speed than my old one. The machine chops up tree branches and leaves with speed and ease.


A group of kids sped past us on their bikes. They jumped in the car and sped away. A car was speeding down the street. An ambulance sped her to the hospital. I got pulled over twice last month because I was speeding on the highway.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The problem was that speed required computing power, and computing power cost money. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Google’s appearance before Congress will mark a turning point for its CEO," 5 Dec. 2018 With its 10nm CPUs long overdue, Intel has continued to goose its existing 14nm process for ever higher clock speeds. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "Razer's Blade Stealth gets a long-awaited upgrade to GeForce graphics and a Whiskey Lake CPU," 4 Dec. 2018 This three-pack for improving WiFi speed and range in your home will be on sale at Jet for $199 (usually $349). Emily Heller, Curbed, "Black Friday 2018: Best home tech deals to watch for," 24 Nov. 2018 Add the egg and almond extract and beat on low speed until incorporated, then add the sugar and flour and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Michaela Bechler, Vogue, "Be Ambitious This Thanksgiving: 3 Bold Recipes From One of L.A.’s Most Talked About Restaurants," 2 Nov. 2018 Increase speed to medium-high; beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Woman's Day Test Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Forest Friends Cake," 25 Oct. 2018 In terms of charging power, the Eclipse auto-detects your device's input to charge at as high a speed possible (maxing out at 7.8 amp). Brittney Morgan, House Beautiful, "This Is The Most Stylish Way To Store Your Chargers," 24 Oct. 2018 Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "This Best-Ever Sugar Cookie Recipe Will Get You in the Holiday Spirit," 19 Sep. 2018 Campers will work on technical base training, tactical knowledge and application as well as speed and agility training and small sided games. Sergio Carmona, Jewish Journal, "Soccer clinics at area JCC focus on skills, sportsmanship," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The chaos followed what began as a peaceful march to appeal for the U.S. to speed processing of asylum claims. Colleen Long, The Seattle Times, "Trump backs use of ‘very safe’ tear gas on crowd of migrants," 27 Nov. 2018 According to the Associated Press, the group was peacefully protesting to speed up the processing of asylum claims for Central American migrants trying to make their way into the U.S. through Tijuana, just below the southern border. Christianna Silva, Teen Vogue, "U.S. Border Patrol Agents Used Tear Gas to Disperse Hundreds of People in the Migrant Caravan," 26 Nov. 2018 Individual donors can’t typically do much to speed search-and-rescue efforts. Kelsey Piper, Vox, "Why disaster relief is so hard," 23 Nov. 2018 Fallon’s decision to join should come as no surprise to those who are up to speed with his presence on Instagram. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "Jimmy Fallon and Tony Hawk are on board," 15 Nov. 2018 This camera comes with plenty of features to keep an eye on your home, with 1080p video and night vision providing a clear view and motion, sound, and vibration detection keeping it up to speed with movement in the room. Alexandria Haslam, PCWorld, "Save $40 when you buy Amazon's Fire TV Cube and Cloud Cam together," 1 Nov. 2018 Until now, the EU has asked for voluntary cooperation from tech companies to speed up their removal of terrorist content from their services. Sam Schechner, Fox News, "Google, Facebook face massive fines over terror propaganda," 12 Sep. 2018 Or try our shortcut microwave method (shown in the video above) to speed it up for a weeknight fix. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "How to Buy and Bake Perfect Sweet Potatoes," 24 Aug. 2018 Instead, cabin crew will act as ad hoc midwives as the plane speeds to its original destination. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "What Happens to Babies Born on Planes," 26 Oct. 2018

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


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


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

History and Etymology for speed


Middle English spede, from Old English spēd; akin to Old High German spuot prosperity, speed, Old English spōwan to succeed, Latin spes hope, Lithuanian spėti to be in time

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Statistics for speed

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for speed

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

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More Definitions for speed



English Language Learners Definition of speed

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the rate at which someone or something moves or travels

: the rate at which something happens or is done

: the quality of being quick



English Language Learners Definition of speed (Entry 2 of 2)

: to move fast

: to move (someone or something) somewhere very quickly

: to drive faster than the legal speed limit


\ˈspēd \

Kids Definition of speed

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : quickness in movement or action

2 : rate of moving or doing a speed of 100 miles an hour


sped\ˈsped \ or speeded; speeding

Kids Definition of speed (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to move or cause to move fast : hurry

2 : to go or drive at too high a rate of movement I got a ticket for speeding.

3 : to increase the rate of an action or movement How can we speed this process?

speed up

: to move more quickly


\ˈspēd \

Medical Definition of speed 

: methamphetamine also : a related stimulant drug and especially an amphetamine

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More from Merriam-Webster on speed

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with speed

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for speed

Spanish Central: Translation of speed

Nglish: Translation of speed for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of speed for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about speed

Comments on speed

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


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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