\ 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 The job of powering the global internet rests on a complex network of more than 400 submarine cables that ferry reams of data around the world at high speed, 24/7. Mary Hui, Quartz, "An undersea internet cable is the latest snag in US-China tensions over Hong Kong," 19 June 2020 Two police squad cars came to clear the scene, going at an unreasonable speed, using their vehicles as weapons. Charles Bethea, The New Yorker, "“The Plight of the Fight”: A View from Atlanta After the Killing of Rayshard Brooks," 17 June 2020 This is especially true as researchers race to develop a vaccine at unprecedented speed. Popular Science, "Scientists are working on at least 135 different coronavirus vaccines," 16 June 2020 The truth is, a No. 6 pellet fired at any particular speed carries the same energy whether it is fired from a 12 gauge or a 28 gauge. Joe Genzel, Outdoor Life, "Best Shotguns: 7 Great 28 Gauges for Upland Hunting," 15 June 2020 Despite being used to hurtling down mountains at breakneck speed, overcoming challenges and channeling frustrations have been part of Gallagher's DNA since birth. Aleks Klosok, CNN, "'I'm the same as everyone else': How albinism empowered a champion," 13 June 2020 The sheriff’s office said witnesses and evidence indicated the motorcycle was traveling north on NE 137th Avenue at significant speed prior to proceeding into and through the intersection, where NE 137th Avenue physically ends at NE 99th Street. oregonlive, "Motorcyclist killed in accident in Vancouver," 13 June 2020 Robotic software tools are designed to complete rote workplace tasks, such as reviewing and processing routine paperwork, at much higher speed and in greater volume than office workers can. Angus Loten, WSJ, "Banks Use Software Bots to Process Surge of Pandemic-Related Loans," 9 June 2020 When both axles are spinning at the same speed, fluid flows between the pumps without building pressure. Steve Spence, Car and Driver, "Tested: 1997 Honda CR-V Launches Honda into the SUV Race," 9 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The nomination moved forward last month after Trump pressed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to speed up the process. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Trump's foreign broadcasting chief ousts top news officials," 19 June 2020 From Zoom to Google Hangouts to Houseparty and social media video chats, people are finding new ways to connect for work and stay up to speed with loved ones. Shirley Macfarland, cleveland, "Brecksville police officers are honored with blue ribbons: Talk of the Towns," 18 June 2020 In a meeting last month, Trump pushed Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar repeatedly to speed the unprecedented timeline. Ed Silverman, STAT, "Pharmalittle: Trump pushes for Covid-19 vaccine by year’s end; Americans fear pharma will keep raising drug prices," 18 June 2020 Identifying the genes will speed this process, Daly said. Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY, "Why do some infected with the coronavirus escape COVID-19 unharmed? It's probably their genes," 17 June 2020 Valdez cited grisly mass shootings in recent years as a reason to keep police stationed in schools, to speed response times in a crisis. Alia Malik, ExpressNews.com, "Rejecting call to disband San Antonio ISD police, trustees plan to examine discipline policies," 16 June 2020 Hosparus had already piloted a tele-health system before the pandemic hit, but Snider says coronvirus pushed the organization to speed up adoption. Sara Harrison, Wired, "When Doctors and Patients Talk About Death Over Zoom," 15 June 2020 Mining companies have asked the government to reopen more border posts with Mozambique and Lesotho to speed the transit of returning workers, said Nikisi Lesufi, an executive for industry lobby group, the Minerals Council of South Africa. Felix Njini, Bloomberg.com, "A Massive Labor Migration Is Starting in Post-Lockdown Africa," 14 June 2020 In June, Moderna became one of five vaccine developers chosen to be part of President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed program to speed development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Alice Park, Time, "Moderna Plans To Start Phase 3 Testing of its COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate in July," 11 June 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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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

23 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Speed.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/speed. Accessed 3 Jul. 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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