\ 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 To put that into perspective, the qualifying speed at this year’s Indy Lights Freedom 100 was 194 mph. Fox News, "Indianapolis Motor Speedway to host autonomous car race," 7 Nov. 2019 For much of the season, the Briton didn't even possess the fastest car but, as Ferrari found out on more than one occasion, speed is meaningless without a driver's calm temperament and an error-free team strategy. Matias Grez, CNN, "Lewis Hamilton 'could go on until he's 40,' says dad Anthony," 4 Nov. 2019 Here, especially in a comical-terrifying scene of macho display, the speed is aggressive and distorting. Brian Seibert, New York Times, "Black Grace, a dance company from New Zealand," 31 Oct. 2019 Top speed is 200mph (321km/h), and the car hits 62mph (100km/h) from a standing start in under two seconds. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Jaguar designed an electric sportscar just for Gran Turismo," 25 Oct. 2019 By harnessing the power of imagination, researchers have nearly doubled the speed at which completely paralyzed patients may be able to communicate with the outside world. Kelly Servick, Science | AAAS, "AI allows paralyzed person to ‘handwrite’ with his mind," 23 Oct. 2019 The speed is 10 percent higher than the train's original designs. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "China Sure Is Building a Lot of High-Speed Rail," 22 Oct. 2019 Plus in football and basketball, lateral speed is huge. Rich Mayor, chicagotribune.com, "York’s Luke Malaga stays in the ‘zone’ year round for Dukes’ football, basketball teams," 20 Oct. 2019 Excessive speed was not a factor in the crash, police said. Madeline Mitchell, Cincinnati.com, "Police ID man killed in Thursday evening Anderson Township crash," 18 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Sarli apologized to the man, jumped in his car and sped away, police reports say. Adam Ferrise, cleveland, "Man stabs coworker in chest while putting roof on Cleveland home, police say," 7 Nov. 2019 The car sped away, but crashed in front of a Wendy’s restaurant at Lafayette and Peabody streets. BostonGlobe.com, "Suspect shot by police held without bail," 31 Oct. 2019 His composure on the ball would have been particularly useful, but he was introduced too late in the 63rd minute and couldn't really get up to speed with the game. SI.com, "Manuel Pellegrini Is West Ham's Best Manager in Years - But He Got it Dreadfully Wrong at Everton," 20 Oct. 2019 By the time Jesse Pinkman sped away to freedom, more than 10 million people were watching. Travis Deshong, Washington Post, "‘El Camino’ is a reminder that Walter White saved Jesse Pinkman, but Netflix might have saved both of them," 14 Oct. 2019 Monaque, whose last name the Tribune is withholding to protect his identity, sped away south past West 77th Street. Alice Yin, chicagotribune.com, "9-year-old boy wounded after gunman aims at car in Gresham: ‘I got shot. I got shot.’," 5 Oct. 2019 Inside his unorthodox campaign Get up to speed on your morning commute with Fortune’s CEO Daily newsletter. Bill Allison, Fortune, "Marianne Williamson Raised $3 Million in Third Quarter, But Will It Be Enough?," 4 Oct. 2019 After Kingshill complied, and left her purse in the sedan, Bell got behind the wheel and sped away, court records state. Zach Despart, Houston Chronicle, "City Council block walker robbed in Sunnyside, Houston police say," 14 Sep. 2019 Believing they were being attacked, Burley sped away. Kevin Rector, baltimoresun.com, "Judge rejects Baltimore Police’s bid to dismiss lawsuit in drug planting case involving GTTF and Det. Suiter," 12 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

11 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for speed

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on speed

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for speed

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

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concealed or difficult to comprehend

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