\ ˈspēd How to pronounce speed (audio) \

Definition of speed

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : rate of motion: such as
(2) : the magnitude of a velocity irrespective of direction
b : the act or state of moving swiftly : swiftness
c : impetus
2 : swiftness or rate of performance or action : velocity sense 3a
3a : the sensitivity of a photographic film, plate, or paper expressed numerically
b : the time during which a camera shutter is open
c : the light-gathering power of a lens or optical system
4 : a transmission gear in automotive vehicles or bicycles usually used in combination a ten-speed bicycle
5 : someone or something that appeals to one's taste just my speed
6 : methamphetamine also : a related stimulant drug and especially an amphetamine
7 archaic : prosperity in an undertaking : success
at speed
chiefly British
up to speed
: operating at full effectiveness or potential


sped\ ˈsped How to pronounce sped (audio) \ or speeded; speeding

Definition of speed (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to make haste sped to her bedside
b : to go or drive at excessive or illegal speed
2 : to move, work, or take place faster : accelerate the heart speeds up
3a archaic : to prosper in an undertaking
b archaic : get along, fare

transitive verb

1a : to cause to move quickly : hasten
b : to increase the speed of : accelerate
c : to wish Godspeed to
2a : to further the success of
b archaic : to cause or help to prosper : aid
3 : to send out speed an arrow

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Other Words from speed


speedster \ ˈspēd-​stər How to pronounce speedster (audio) \ 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 depression was churning to the northwest at a decent clip of 12 mph but was expected to step on the gas and increase its forward speed over the next few days. Brett Clarkson, sun-sentinel.com, "A new tropical depression has formed and the cone comes scarily close to the Bahamas.," 17 Sep. 2019 Oregon law requires vehicles to adjust their speed for hazardous conditions. oregonlive, "Portland metro Tuesday traffic: Time to get your vehicle ready for the rainy season," 17 Sep. 2019 The Redskins may be 0–2, with both losses coming in the division, but McLaurin’s nuanced route running and excellent body control alongside his speed is something the team should be excited about. 5. Alaa Abdeldaiem, SI.com, "The Most Impressive NFL Rookies Through Two Weeks," 16 Sep. 2019 One is his closing speed, as evidenced here in a futile attempt to prevent Indiana’s late first-half fleaflicker from becoming a touchdown: ... and his ability and willingness to land a big hit when necessary. Nathan Baird, cleveland.com, "Is Ohio State football’s defense ready for Clemson and Alabama? Buckeye Rewatch," 16 Sep. 2019 That speed and hyper-reactivity wasn’t there yet in the 2000s. Patrick Lyons, Billboard, "How Kanye, Taylor and the 2009 VMAs Changed Music and Culture Reporting," 13 Sep. 2019 If paddling is more your speed, Midcoast Kayak offers guided tours of nearby Muscongus Bay (www.midcoastkayak.com), perfect for beginners. BostonGlobe.com, "Skip Saturday soccer (and get away) - The Boston Globe," 12 Sep. 2019 Deputies began following the vehicle but lost track of it because of its speed, according to the sheriff’s office. Anna Claire Vollers | Avollers@al.com, al, "2 dead following Dollar General burglary, high-speed car chase," 8 Sep. 2019 His sideline-to-sideline speed is imperative against the league’s speediest running backs and wide receivers. Kyle Fredrickson, The Denver Post, "NFC preview: Will new coaching staff propel Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay back to title chase?," 5 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Inside his unorthodox campaign Get up to speed on your morning commute with Fortune’s CEO Daily newsletter. Mary Clare Jalonick, Fortune, "Lewandowski to Testify at First Impeachment Hearing as Democrats Investigate Trump," 17 Sep. 2019 Two brothers were arrested Wednesday after a traffic stop for speeding turned into a fight with Orange County Sheriff’s deputies, according to an affidavit. David Harris, orlandosentinel.com, "Brothers arrested after traffic stop turns violent, Orange deputies say," 15 Aug. 2019 Last year, the twins were pulled over by Ohio authorities for speeding while driving to the festival at 58 mph — making this their second run-in with the law. Fox News, "Twin brothers pulled over in Ohio for near-identical license plates en route to Twins Festival," 3 Aug. 2019 If the rainforest were to die back, the large amount of greenhouse gases this would release would speed up that process. The Economist, "The Amazon is approaching an irreversible tipping point," 1 Aug. 2019 Tyndall was stopped Thursday night for speeding when authorities saw two homemade explosive devices in his vehicle, Sheriff Jimmy Thornton said at a news conference. NBC News, "2 North Carolina bomb squad agents injured in blast while trying to destroy bomb-making materials," 26 July 2019 Seeing such an agreement, perhaps the CLCS would speed up its reviews. Mark Fischetti, Scientific American, "Nations Claim Large Overlapping Sections of Arctic Seafloor," 23 July 2019 Other governments are drafting special trade agreements with neighbouring countries to speed up the import of drugs when there is a deficit. The Economist, "A dire scarcity of drugs is worsening, in part, because they are so cheap," 14 Sep. 2019 Just Like Us Once the lights turned on and guests were pointed toward the exits, Diplo -- who was dressed casually in jeans and a button down with his hair in a small ponytail -- climbed over the arena seats to speed along his departure. Lyndsey Havens, Billboard, "All The Things You Missed At Rihanna's Epic Savage x Fenty NYFW Show," 11 Sep. 2019

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 7


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 3a

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

14 Oct 2019

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 How to pronounce speed (audio) \

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 How to pronounce speed (audio) \

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

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