\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 19-year-old French star is a modern-day monster, a powerhouse with devastating speed, gifted feet and finishing composure. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "How the World Cup final between France and Croatia will be won," 13 July 2018 The new MacBook Pros, which go on sale today, get a bump in processor speeds, RAM, and internal storage. Lauren Goode, WIRED, "Apple's MacBook Pros Get Faster Chips, New Keyboards (Kinda)," 12 July 2018 The 29-year-old Olympian and former American record holder in the hammer throw posts video after video of her demo’ing the intense speed, strength, and explosion that this sport requires. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "Olympic Hammer Thrower Gwen Berry Shares Her Intense Training Regimen," 12 July 2018 The derailment of a Daytona Beach roller coaster in June that injured six people was caused by excessive speed, an investigation from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services found. Michael Williams, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Daytona Beach roller coaster derailed due to excessive speed, operator error, investigation finds," 11 July 2018 Part of the Royals' focus on speed, athleticism, and flyball pitchers is that those attributes were generally undervalued in baseball. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "Mellinger Minutes: Whit not an All-Star (?), Jeff Long and KU, Chiefs fears, Odom's crossroads," 10 July 2018 With mixer on low speed, add lime mixture, beating to combine. Teri Mena, sacbee, "Dessert anxiety? Pie keeps you chill," 10 July 2018 This data may include your car’s location, speed, mileage, tire pressure, fuel use, braking, engine/battery status, driver behavior and more. Kim Komando, Fox News, "5 essential tech options for your new car," 6 July 2018 And slow down the shutter speed, which is measured in fractions of seconds. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "How to capture the eerie nighttime clouds of climate change," 6 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Mike Williams INDIANAPOLIS -- Ben Stevens thought about breaking free for more yardage as time sped off the clock at North Central High School on Friday night. Rich Torress, Indianapolis Star, "North extends winning streak to four in IFCA All-Star game," 13 July 2018 For the second time in as many weeks, a man was seen clinging to the hood of a car speeding on I-95, this time on Tuesday afternoon, WPLG Local 10 reported. Howard Cohen, miamiherald, "Video captures another man clinging to the hood of a speeding car on I-95," 10 July 2018 There were parties and after-parties where the cool kids 10 years older took us under wing and brought us up to speed on essential 1970s acts like David Bowie, Roxy Music, and Sparks. Nancy Baym, WIRED, "Book Excerpt: How Music Fans Built the Internet," 10 July 2018 Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% 0:00 / 3:38 Police officer helps driver with tie instead of giving him a speeding ticket Advertisement Menomonie Police Officer Martin Folczyk spotted a BMW speeding and pulled over the driver. Lisa Gutierrez, kansascity, "Hate wearing a tie to work? Study shows peril of 'socially desirable strangulation'," 9 July 2018 Of that count, only in one death and one traumatic brain injury (that came with a severed arm) were the cyclists unquestionably at fault, both pushing Tour de France speeds on descents with oncoming traffic. Marc Peruzzi, Outside Online, "The Troubling Rise of the Ghost Bike," 9 July 2018 Kim said Harshaw passed a background check and had no prior felonies or even a speeding ticket, Channel 2 reported. Raisa Habersham, ajc, "Cops: Cobb housekeeper stole engagement ring, wedding band," 5 July 2018 And a recent video from the good ol’ Sunshine State, more specifically South Florida, captured the most curious (and terrifying) sight ... a man holding on to the hood of a car speeding down Interstate 95 while casually on his phone. Breanna Edwards, The Root, "What in the Florida? Video Shows Man Riding on the Hood of Speeding Car on I-95," 26 June 2018 If a driver gets a speeding ticket, the driver pays. Alana Semuels, The Atlantic, "I Delivered Packages for Amazon and It Was a Nightmare," 25 June 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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Learn More about speed

Statistics for speed

Last Updated

30 Sep 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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Comments on speed

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lying above or upon

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