\ 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
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 combinationa 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

Noun 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. Verb 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 And for those suspects staring down a 20-year sentence if convicted, there’s little incentive to demand the wheels of justice speed up. Lisa Donovan, chicagotribune.com, "The Spin: Read Eric Trump’s texts to Mayor Lightfoot during Chicago unrest | From Lightfoot to Trump a 9/11 message of unity | Ex-Mayor Emanuel, Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts at Chicago fundraiser for Kamala Harris," 11 Sep. 2020 The brand’s first new car for four years can accelerate to 60 miles per hour in less than 3 seconds and has a top speed of 200 miles an hour. Eric Sylvers, WSJ, "Fiat Chrysler Looks to Maserati to Jump-Start Stalled European Business," 10 Sep. 2020 Both rovers have the same head, or remote sensing mast, top driving speed of 0.094 miles per hour (for reference, mosquitoes fly at about one mile per hour), mobility system and size. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Meet OPTIMISM, the Perseverance rover's twin on Earth," 9 Sep. 2020 The company says the MC20 will be able to dispatch 60 mph in less than 3.0 seconds and achieve a top speed of more than 202 mph. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, "Maserati MC20, an Elegant Mid-Engined Supercar, Could Herald a Renaissance," 9 Sep. 2020 There just aren’t many cornerbacks walking the planet who have Westry’s combination of size (6-4) and speed (4.36 40-yard dash). John Owning, Dallas News, "3 players the Cowboys should sneak onto the practice squad, including a CB with rare combo of physical traits," 2 Sep. 2020 Laura’s top wind speed of 150 mph (241 kph) put it among the strongest systems on record in the U.S. Melinda Deslatte, Star Tribune, "Laura thrashes Louisiana, nearby states face tornado threats," 28 Aug. 2020 The hurricane's top wind speed of 150 mph put it among the strongest systems on record in the U.S. Arkansas Online, "Laura's leftovers move east, leaving a disaster in Louisiana," 28 Aug. 2020 The hurricane's top wind speed of 150 mph put it among the strongest systems on record in the U.S. Christopher Brito, CBS News, "Hurricane Laura topples Confederate statue, two weeks after officials voted to keep it," 28 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Pierce praised some of the creative measures taken at offices around the nation to speed up citizenship oaths of allegiance, such as allowing drive-up oaths of allegiance. Dianne Solis, Dallas News, "Slowdown means many on the path to citizenship will not get to vote in the presidential election," 13 Sep. 2020 While in the ambulance Bridgewater knew things were bad when the trainer implored the driver to speed up. Steve Reed, Star Tribune, "QB Bridgewater 'thankful' for injury, eager for 2nd chance," 11 Sep. 2020 The idea is to pump oil-eating bacteria into the ocean and foreshore to speed up the natural effect of the sea’s own organisms. Erica Yokoyama, Bloomberg.com, "Why We Still Can’t Stop Oil Spills From Damaging the Environment," 10 Sep. 2020 Wyoming has long been a leader in developing carbon capture technology, housing a major carbon capture research hub and putting in place policies to speed development of CO2 pipelines. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Energy: Renewable energy companies beef up DC operations," 4 Sep. 2020 At Gahcho Kué, Dipple and his students tested a way to speed up the process. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, "Industrial waste can turn planet-warming carbon dioxide into stone," 3 Sep. 2020 That’s Wayne Koff, the chief executive of the Human Vaccines Project, a nonprofit working to speed the development of vaccines for numerous contagious diseases. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "Can the Dow’s Big Tech makeover finally push the bluechip index to 30,000?," 25 Aug. 2020 The agency has issued 60 guidance and other documents for Covid, giving detailed advice on how to speed up development. Scott Gottlieb, WSJ, "Betting on Better Drug Trials to Beat Covid-19," 23 Aug. 2020 To speed development, the White House has launched Operation Warp Speed, signing agreements with drugmakers worth more than $4 billion. Ros Krasny, chicagotribune.com, "President Trump, without evidence, accuses ‘deep state, or whoever’ at the FDA of delaying vaccine trials to affect November election," 22 Aug. 2020

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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Learn More about speed

Time Traveler for speed

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for speed

Last Updated

15 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Speed.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/speed. Accessed 20 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for speed


How to pronounce speed (audio)

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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