speed

1 of 2

noun

1
a
: rate of motion: such as
(2)
: the magnitude of a velocity irrespective of direction
b
: the act or state of moving swiftly : swiftness
c
2
: swiftness or rate of performance or action : velocity sense 3a
3
a
: 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
speedster noun

speed

2 of 2

verb

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

intransitive verb

1
a
: 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
3
a
archaic : to prosper in an undertaking
b
archaic : get along, fare

transitive verb

1
a
: to cause to move quickly : hasten
b
: to increase the speed of : accelerate
c
: to wish Godspeed to
2
a
: to further the success of
b
archaic : to cause or help to prosper : aid
3
: to send out
speed an arrow
speeder noun
Phrases
at speed
chiefly British
up to speed
: operating at full effectiveness or potential
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

Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Researchers there put about 20 human drivers on a circular track and asked them to drive at a constant speed. Arkansas Online, 25 Nov. 2022 There is seating for six and the yard says passengers will enjoy a dry ride even at speed. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 22 Nov. 2022 Aside from splashy moments like the rovers’ landing on Mars, the filmmakers had to build action scenes around machines that crept along the surface at a typical speed of .02 miles an hour. John Jurgensen, WSJ, 22 Nov. 2022 Wall, who came off the bench to replace Kawhi Leonard, kept himself and the ball moving at a breakneck speed. Houston Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 22 Nov. 2022 Bell went up and grabbed it with a safety headed his way at full speed. Tony Garcia, Detroit Free Press, 20 Nov. 2022 But new text-to-image systems like DALL-E, Stable Diffusion and Midjourney can pump out impressive-looking images at lightning speed, unlike anything the art world has seen before. Rachel Metz, CNN, 20 Nov. 2022 Hitting a big bump at speed proved the truck can fly and—more importantly—land without undue drama. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, 19 Nov. 2022 Elon Musk seems to be running it into the ground at comical speed. Erin Somers, The Atlantic, 18 Nov. 2022
Verb
In the legislature, Merrin introduced a number of bills and amendments affecting landlords like himself, including proposals to speed up eviction deadlines and prohibit local governments from enacting their own anti-lead poisoning rules. Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland, 23 Nov. 2022 With a shortage of medications, pharmaceutical companies have been forced to speed up production. Vanessa Etienne, Peoplemag, 23 Nov. 2022 The adults handed me a 20-gauge shotgun and pointed toward the flock of wild birds, their awkward wings beating to speed their scramble down the hill and away from us. James Freeman, WSJ, 23 Nov. 2022 Specifically designed to support knees, hips, pelvis, and lower back, while offering muscle compression, these leggings do a lot to lighten the load and speed up recovery. Outside Online, 23 Nov. 2022 Others, around the world, however, are working to speed up that timeline. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, 22 Nov. 2022 While companies have built very large wind farms off European shores, and governments have awarded leases for large amounts of undersea acreage, notably Scotland this year, executives say political leaders don’t do enough to speed up approvals. Stanley Reed, New York Times, 22 Nov. 2022 There are already a ton of legislative tasks that lawmakers want to try to speed through before the next Congress is sworn in, and different lawmakers attach different levels of priority to each item on their to-do list. Jason Linkins, The New Republic, 21 Nov. 2022 Soothe tight muscles and speed up your workout recovery for less during Hyperice's Cyber Week sale (one of Naomi Osaka's go-tos), with tools like its Hypervolt massage devices and travel-friendly Hypersphere Mini on sale for up to 15 percent off. Harper's BAZAAR, 21 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English sped, speede, spede "luck, fortune, good fortune, success, assistance, benefit, rate of motion or progress," going back to Old English spēd "luck, success, riches, opportunity, power," spēdum (dative plural used adverbially) "swiftly," going back to West Germanic *spōdi- (whence also Old Saxon spōd "success, advantage," Middle Dutch spoed "prosperity, progress, haste," Old High German spuot "quickness, velocity"), derivative with the abstract noun suffix -ti- from the base of *spōan- "to succeed" (whence Old English spōwan "to succeed, thrive" [Class 7 strong verb], Middle Dutch spoen "to strive," Old High German spuoen "to succeed"), going back to an o-grade derivative of the Indo-European verbal base *speh1- "thrive, prosper", whence also Old Church Slavic spějǫ, spěti "to have success," Lithuanian spė́ju, spė́ti "to manage (to do something)," Sanskrit sphā́yate "(s/he) grows fat, increases," Hittite išpāi "(s/he) gets full, is satiated"; as nominal derivatives Latin spēs "hope" (< *speh1-), Latin prosperus "agreeable to one's wishes, successful, prosperous," Old Russian sporŭ "abundant," Sanskrit sphiráḥ "fat" (< *sph1-ró-)

Verb

Middle English speden "to succeed, fare, assist, travel swiftly," going back to Old English spēdan, gespēdan "to have success, succeed, prosper," verbal derivative of spēd "luck, success" — more at speed entry 1

Note: Parallel Germanic formations are Old Saxon spōdian "to further, promote" and Old High German gispuoten "to make thrive."

First Known Use

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 7

Verb

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near speed

Cite this Entry

“Speed.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/speed. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

speed 1 of 2

noun

1
a
: the act or state of moving swiftly : swiftness
b
: rate of motion : velocity
2
: quickness in movement or action
3
: a transmission gear in motor vehicles or bicycles
a 10-speed bicycle
4
: methamphetamine
also : a related drug
up to speed
: operating at full effectiveness or capability

speed

2 of 2

verb

sped ˈsped How to pronounce speed (audio) or speeded; speeding
1
a
: to move or cause to move fast
b
: to go or drive at too high a speed
2
: to increase the speed of : accelerate
often used with up

Medical Definition

speed

noun

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

More from Merriam-Webster on speed

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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