\ 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 That translates to a speed that's only 10% to 50% of what Cox offers through its basic internet service plan. Jeff Adelson, NOLA.com, "New Orleans officials weigh program to provide citywide wireless internet," 5 Aug. 2020 But times have changed, and technology is finally catching up to speed. Stefanie Waldek, Travel + Leisure, "Virgin Galactic Teams Up With Rolls-Royce to Build a Supersonic Plane — Get a Sneak Peek," 3 Aug. 2020 Making matters even harder this year will be the lack of an offseason program and preseason games to help Burrow get up to speed and build chemistry with his receivers. Josh Dubow, Star Tribune, "No. 1 pick Joe Burrow happy to be on field for Bengals," 31 July 2020 In Oakland, for example, the union representing the district’s 2,800 teachers initially proposed limiting live interaction with students to 30 minutes a day for the first two weeks of school to allow teachers time to get up to speed. Jill Tucker, SFChronicle.com, "School is about to start, but Bay Area teachers’ unions and districts still can’t agree on key details for online learning," 31 July 2020 Bishop has practiced in all three days since the Stars arrived in Edmonton, according to a team spokesperson, and will have to adjust to game speed again. Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, "Approaching their first NHL game in months, the Stars are prepared to live with their mistakes," 30 July 2020 The Swift required Winchester to design bullets that would stand up to extreme speed. David E. Petzal, Field & Stream, "The 5 Fastest Rifle Cartridges," 30 July 2020 Get up to speed with Abby’s story on the legal landscape posted earlier this week. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Energy: Dakota Access shutdown could leave hundreds of thousands of oil barrels without an export route," 10 July 2020 Now, Counsell and his staff will have roughly three weeks to get their players back up to speed. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "‘Everybody’s excited’: COVID-19 will present challenges, yes, but baseball’s return is only a week away," 26 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Meanwhile, some political pressure is building to speed up the removal of PFAS from food wrappers. Michele Cohen Marill, Wired, "The End Is Nearer for ‘Forever Chemicals’ in Food Wrappers," 7 Aug. 2020 On July 21, a Sonora Quest spokesperson said the lab had a team working 24 hours a day to install, validate and put into use new production lines to speed up its ability to process samples at higher volumes. Maria Polletta, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona attorney general says Sonora Quest may have violated state fraud act with COVID-19 test delays," 7 Aug. 2020 In November 2019, with a ballot box fight looming over Oregon’s logging practices, the institute’s board discussed whether to speed up the release of the study. The Cutting, ProPublica, "What Happened When a Public Institute Became a De Facto Lobbying Arm of the Timber Industry," 7 Aug. 2020 Biogen said regulators had agreed to speed up the review without the company using a voucher that ensures a fast consideration, which some analysts said could be viewed as a sign of FDA interest. Washington Post, "FDA to fast-track review of experimental Alzheimer’s drug from Biogen, Eisai," 7 Aug. 2020 The new agreement requires the city speed up the prosecution of disciplinary cases against officers accused of excessive force and immediately discipline officers when federal monitor recommends it. Benjamin Weiser, New York Times, "Violence at Rikers at an ‘All-Time High’ Despite City’s Promise to Curb It," 6 Aug. 2020 While the suit will seek yet-unspecified damages, Rahmani said the suit was mainly intended to speed up the criminal investigation. August Brown, chicagotribune.com, "Migos rapper Takeoff accused of sexual assault," 5 Aug. 2020 The county took over both testing sites from the federal government in July and hoped to speed up test results, which had been taking up to 15 days to come back. Allie Morris, Dallas News, "County probing why fewer COVID-19 tests came back positive at U Dallas site," 4 Aug. 2020 In November 2019, with a ballot box fight looming over Oregon’s logging practices, the institute’s board discussed whether to speed up the release of the study. oregonlive, "What happened when a public institute became a de facto lobbying arm of the timber industry," 4 Aug. 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

10 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Speed.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/speed. Accessed 14 Aug. 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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Comments on speed

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