\ 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
c : impetus
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 combination a 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 speed (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 speed (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 After parking on a side street for a short time, the driver saw the officer and fled at a high rate of speed. Cheryl Higley, cleveland, 6 June 2021 Nonetheless, Cora believes Santana brings an element of speed that the Sox have lacked at the top of their lineup. BostonGlobe.com, 6 June 2021 With lots of early speed that same tactic as the last race could provide a nice 12-1 or more value winner today. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, 5 June 2021 The undulating nature of that circuit gave the R7 plenty of opportunity to show off its incredible agility, the chassis changing direction with the kind of speed that the four-cylinder R6 could only dream of. Peter Jackson, Robb Report, 4 June 2021 Security often gets a bad reputation for asking for a new deployment as a result of a false positive, while DevOps may be accused of sacrificing best practices for the sake of speed. Vladi Sandler, Forbes, 1 June 2021 This means the Pixel 6 phones won’t match the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 in terms of speed, but the upgrade will still be significant. Chris Smith, BGR, 24 May 2021 Vessels passing or approaching another vehicle must be operated in such a manner and at such a rate of speed that will not create a hazardous wash or wake. Paul Gattis | Pgattis@al.com, al, 22 May 2021 The exit from Keyhole foreshadowed the rest of the lap; lots of speed with exceptionally good grip under cornering. Austin Irwin, Car and Driver, 20 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Why not get him up to speed with the spinning craze and hook him up with a Myx bike? Marah Eakin, USA TODAY, 8 June 2021 Trying to speed up and get to the bike lane on the other side of the road before cars intersect? Julian Chokkattu, Wired, 2 June 2021 In the last week, California state legislators have approved a raft of bills to force change at the state agency, including requirements to speed up processing of claims and check to make sure people filing claims are not incarcerated. Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times, 2 June 2021 Your organization has just bought a low-code platform to speed app development and delivery, modernize systems and consolidate core processes. Moe Goswami, Forbes, 28 May 2021 The point of plopping is to speed up the drying process of the hair and to keep the curl shape as defined and frizz-free as possible. Andrea Jordan, Good Housekeeping, 25 May 2021 The device utilizes a high-tech, PTC-heating semiconductor that helps speed up heating and maintain a consistent, customized temperature while offering ultra secure, multi-insulation protection. Tim Kohut, BGR, 21 May 2021 Many coaches in the state have long been proponents of the shot clock to speed up the game and keep teams from holding the ball. Richard Obert, The Arizona Republic, 12 May 2021 Additionally, the Harvard Medical School reports chiles can speed up metabolism and help oxidize fat. Paul Stephen, San Antonio Express-News, 3 May 2021

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

12 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Speed.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/speed. Accessed 24 Jun. 2021.

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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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