\ ˈspēd How to pronounce speed (audio) \

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
(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 How to pronounce sped (audio) \ 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 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


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

Reliance Jio, an Indian firm, has sunk $37bn into building a high-speed mobile network and acquiring a big base of mostly poor users. The Economist, "The second half of humanity is joining the internet," 8 June 2019 Prescott police arrested a man, who was wanted on a felony warrant for a parole violation, after a high-speed chase on State Route 69 in Prescott, officials said. Aubrey Carpenter, azcentral, "Prescott police go on high-speed chase after man with an arrest warrant," 7 June 2019 Russia said Huawei would help build its new high-speed wireless network, known as 5G, in a deal signed on Thursday, the first day of a three-day visit by President Xi Jinping of China. Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, "Huawei, Shunned by U.S. Government, Is Welcomed in Russia," 6 June 2019 On its website, the track owners say trainers must apply 48 hours in advance for permission to give a horse a high-speed training exercise. Cheri Mossburg And Steve Almasy, CNN, "Another racehorse dies after an injury at Santa Anita Park," 6 June 2019 So far, the Federal Railroad Administration has given California $2.5 billion to construct a high-speed railway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, with another $929 million pledged. Andrew O'reilly | Fox News, Fox News, "Top California high-speed rail executive under investigation in ethics probe," 5 June 2019 According to the Federal Aviation Administration, trained pilots take 1.1 seconds to become aware that a small or high-speed object could pose a serious threat in the air and then another 0.4 seconds to take corrective action. Neil Greenberg, courant.com, "MLB’s netting dilemma: With current standards, danger is just a second away," 5 June 2019 Police in Boynton Beach are investigating the death of a pedestrian who was struck and killed by a Brightline higher-speed passenger train. Wayne K. Roustan, sun-sentinel.com, "Passenger train kills person in Boynton Beach, police say," 4 June 2019 The iPad’s purpose wasn’t solely entertainment or an internet connection, as the free high-speed Wifi allowed me to stay connected with jealous friends back in New York. Kaitlin Menza, Town & Country, "Switzerland's Most Beautiful Train Line, the Glacier Express, Has a New Luxury Car," 29 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The event started with a video feed of a white Tesla Model X sport-utility vehicle speeding through the tunnel and then emerging in front of the crowd gathered around a large pit created to dig the passage. Tim Higgins, WSJ, "Inside Elon Musk’s Tunnel to Alleviate ‘Soul-Destroying’ Traffic," 19 Dec. 2018 When the masks finally reached Thailand, a representative of Draeger Safety, Thanyanit Udomnilobol, helped speed them through customs, Gamberini said. Bradley J. Fikes, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Diving masks from San Marcos company helped rescue of Thai boys from cave," 11 July 2018 Alterboyz practices slow, patient improv while Wet Bus speeds through its set with quick wit, rapid physicality shifts, and bold scene initiations. Steve Heisler, Chicago Reader, "The two improv teams in Oh Hell Yeah demonstrate that timing is everything," 22 June 2018 The coaster speeds through tunnels filled with visual effects from laser beams to a stretching Elastigirl. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Pixar Pier first look: Riding the Incredicoaster at California Adventure," 21 June 2018 The Staircase was one of the first TV shows to do a deep hours-long dive into a criminal case instead of speeding through a whole trial in an half an hour. Lincoln Michel, GQ, "The Seminal True Crime Documentary Is Now on Netflix," 16 June 2018 The teens fled southbound on Claremont, sped through alleys and whizzed past stop signs, police said. Jeremy Gorner, chicagotribune.com, "2 teens charged in Bucktown carjacking," 14 June 2018 He could be seen speeding through Singapore on Sunday in a black limousine adorned with large North Korean flags. Washington Post, "Isolated Kim takes big gamble leaving home for Trump summit," 10 June 2018 Police on Monday said a 62-year-old man sped through a checkpoint near an intersection where lava was approaching. CBS News, "Hawaii volcano lava destroys more homes, including Big Island mayor's," 5 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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Statistics for speed

Last Updated

10 Jun 2019

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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 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with speed

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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