\ 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 This kind of speed in vaccine development was unprecedented, and largely derived from the revolutionary—and yet, on a large scale, untested—biomedical technology behind the Moderna vaccine. Carolyn Kormann, The New Yorker, "The Coronavirus Vaccine Is on Track to Be the Fastest Ever Developed," 22 May 2020 The vehicle continued northbound on Spring Garden at a high rate of speed. Tanya A. Christian, Essence, "3,000-Person Block Party In Florida Leads To Arrests, Claims Of Racism," 21 May 2020 The lack of high-end speed for a T. rex, compared to small or average-sized dinosaur was actually to their benefit, Holtz explained, citing the ability to save energy. Fox News, "Frightening Tyrannosaurus rex was a 'marathon' walker, new study says," 21 May 2020 Supergirl’s back to full speed and backed by Dreamer and M’Gann. Sara Netzley, EW.com, "Supergirl finale recap: Sweet forgiveness and some serious cliffhangers," 18 May 2020 Rather each person filmed themselves playing their part, using a metronome set to the same speed, and then the video was synchronized. Joanna Pearlstein, Wired, "How We'll Learn to Sing Together When We're Far Apart," 16 May 2020 But in the long arc of vaccine history, even 18 months is something close to light-speed. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, "A Vaccine Against COVID-19 Would Be the Latest Success in a Long Scientific History," 15 May 2020 Coronaviruses—which, to be clear, belong to a completely separate family from influenza viruses—change at a tenth of the speed. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, "The Problem With Stories About Dangerous Coronavirus Mutations," 6 May 2020 For the past seven weeks, parents throughout Kentucky have been tasked with keeping their children up-to-speed on schoolwork while also coping with their own new directives to work from home. Maggie Menderski, The Courier-Journal, "'Healthy at Home' isn't all laughs for Britainy Beshear. How the first family is coping," 28 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Newer types of ports can also speed up certain tasks. NBC News, "The best laptops for college students in 2020," 22 May 2020 In turn, the Ukrainian researchers pointed out, these algal blooms may also speed the effects of climate change. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "In Summer, Antarctic Snow Turns Green with Algae," 22 May 2020 With an outbreak in progress, the plant then reduced line speeds to half capacity, according to a company statement. USA Today, "Cheap chicken, beef came at a cost. How American meat plants bred coronavirus hot spots.," 22 May 2020 The gunman, who hasn’t been publicly identified, sped through... Sadie Gurman, WSJ, "Shooting at Texas Naval Air Station Is Terrorism-Related, FBI Says," 21 May 2020 As deputies approached the seller’s vehicle, the driver sped away from the scene. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "Father charged in teen son’s death following chase, crash in Jefferson County," 21 May 2020 The motorcyclist refused and sped off, leading deputies on a short pursuit along FM 1960 at more than 100 mph, police said. Jay R. Jordan, Houston Chronicle, "Motorcyclist killed in wreck while fleeing Harris County deputies, sheriff says," 19 May 2020 Her election will likely speed up the passing of a controversial bill that would criminalize abuse of the Chinese national anthem. Zen Soo, The Christian Science Monitor, "Hong Kong legislature erupts over pro-Beijing chair," 18 May 2020 The suspects, who were in a black Mercedes SUV, sped off and remain at large. Nataly Keomoungkhoun, Dallas News, "Police searching for gunman who opened fire on officer during traffic stop in South Dallas," 18 May 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

26 May 2020

Cite this Entry

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

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