\ 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 The Cornell University website All About Birds said loons need from 30 yards to a quarter-mile to gain enough speed for liftoff, and may become stranded on ponds that are too small. BostonGlobe.com, 17 July 2021 Schmeissing, in fact, is one of the biggest proponents of the breakout rule, which limits the lap speed the 4-cylinder cars can reach during an event. Tony Baranek, chicagotribune.com, 17 July 2021 As in the days of Martin Luther, who disseminated his ideas with unprecedented speed through the recent invention of printing, modern communications technology has facilitated controversy, this time on a global scale. Francis X. Rocca, WSJ, 16 July 2021 In recent weeks, Lebanon's economic crisis -- which the World Bank has called one of the worst since the mid-19th century -- has picked up speed. Tamara Qiblawi, CNN, 16 July 2021 The Trump administration prioritized speed over thorough vetting, and fraud was widespread. Washington Post, 16 July 2021 The company is promising a 2.5-second zero-to-62-mph time and a 217-mph top speed and says the car is on track to deliver a 6:30 lap time of the 12.9-mile Nürburgring Nordschleife. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, 15 July 2021 At Aberdeen, Zach Watson is a polished college outfielder with power and speed. Jon Meoli, baltimoresun.com, 15 July 2021 Still, factory hiring shrank, ISM found, largely because manufacturers are struggling to fill job openings as the economy rebounds with unexpected speed from the coronavirus recession. Paul Wiseman, Star Tribune, 15 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Formula 1 races are usually shorter than NASCAR races, the cars a little faster (around 230 mph to speed compared to about 200 mph), and the tracks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. NBC News, 22 June 2021 To start, Atlassian had to get up to speed on measuring its electricity and fuel usage as well as future usage projections. Tovin Lapan, Fortune, 22 June 2021 To be thrown in that deep water and just try and get it up to speed and go at it in an old-school way. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 19 June 2021 This is critical in keeping up to speed with not only our tech innovation work but broader developments in the space. Jeff Thomson, Forbes, 11 June 2021 One of the most basic problems security teams face is getting their machines up to speed with the latest software patches. James Rundle, WSJ, 8 June 2021 The rule, established due to the limited in-person contact during the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to help college programs get back up to speed with their evaluation process. oregonlive, 3 June 2021 Although many hours are consumed through virtual meetings and film study, the mini-camp allows for Collins and others to get a full series of walk-through plays to help get them up to speed for further offseason workouts and mini-camps. Bob Mcmanaman, The Arizona Republic, 14 May 2021 One of my most effective communication tools last year was the use of short videos — captured on my cell phone — to keep our teams engaged and up to speed on what was happening. Sarah Hauer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 7 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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Time Traveler for speed

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The first known use of speed was before the 12th century

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Statistics for speed

Last Updated

18 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Speed.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/speed. Accessed 27 Jul. 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

More from Merriam-Webster on 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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