\ 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 Elidia Abarca Carreto, 42, of the 0-50 block of Wheeling Avenue, Wheeling, was charged with having no valid driver’s license and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident April 28 following a traffic accident on Aptakisic Road at GK Lane. chicagotribune.com, "Lincolnshire police: Man charged with drug DUI following traffic stop on Milwaukee Avenue," 5 May 2021 Show mom some extra special love on her extra special day by treating her to a dining experience that’s just her speed. Georgann Yara, The Arizona Republic, "Here are 12 restaurants with Mother's Day brunch and dinner for dine-in in metro Phoenix," 5 May 2021 Its orbital speed exceeds 28,000 k/h (17,500 mph), and miscalculating the reentry by half an hour either way can make a difference of more than 10,000 km in landing distance. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, "A Massive Chinese Rocket Will Fall Uncontrollably Back to Earth Soon. It (Probably) Won't Land On You," 5 May 2021 The Seattle Seahawks’ wide receiver now plans to test his speed against elite sprinters on the track. oregonlive, "Seattle Seahawks’ DK Metcalf will test his speed against elite pro sprinters in 100-meter dash," 4 May 2021 One of the ways Julio is impacting the offense so much is with his speed. Alex Vejar, The Salt Lake Tribune, "How RSL trading a homegrown player led to the acquisition of budding star Anderson Julio," 4 May 2021 Imagine his speed and receiver-like ability on the deep overs the Colts like to run with the tight ends. Joel A. Erickson, The Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Rookie tight end Kylen Granson's open-field ability can open up Colts playbook," 4 May 2021 All eyes in Worcester are on Duran, who has been nothing short of dazzling since remaking his swing in the winter of 2019-20 to add power to his electrifying speed. BostonGlobe.com, "A closer look at the WooSox’ initial roster, and which prospects to keep an eye on," 3 May 2021 There is a real functional element to his speed and should help the Packers modernize their secondary and prevent the kind of home run breakdowns that underlined their last two conference title game losses. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Packers draft grades around the internet feature a couple A's and a couple F's," 3 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Williams called for an investigation, and in October declared a public safety emergency to speed up the process of implementing reforms, according to CNN affiliate KPIX. Breeanna Hare, CNN, "This California city has a history of police using deadly force. Its first Black police chief looks toward reform," 2 May 2021 Cruise lines, meanwhile, cheered the news that the CDC is committed to resuming sailing in the U.S. by midsummer and is adjusting some of the rules to speed the process. David Koenig, Star Tribune, "Number of Americans fully vaccinated tops 100 million," 30 Apr. 2021 Stick your items in a wash bag and add a wet washcloth, hand towel or ice cubes to dryer to speed up the process. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "Can You Dry Clean at Home? An Expert Explains How to Refresh Your Clothes, With or Without a Kit," 30 Apr. 2021 Amid reports of refund delays, the Internal Revenue Service is providing some tips on how to speed up the process. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al, "Where’s my tax refund? IRS tips for getting your refund faster," 28 Apr. 2021 The bipartisan legislation is intended to speed up the asylum process by quickly weeding out weak or bogus claims and more quickly and fairly granting asylum to those who qualify. Daniel Gonzalez, The Arizona Republic, "'It's an American problem': Sens. Sinema, Cornyn introduce bipartisan immigration bill to ease border surge," 23 Apr. 2021 States now have the option of accepting documents for REAL ID applications, such as photo ID, online to speed up the process, according to the new rules. Ivan Pereira, ABC News, "Millions of Americans could be grounded from flying because of REAL ID deadline," 22 Apr. 2021 And there is something to be said for shaking a fist, demanding better and trying to speed up the process. Steve Lopez Columnist, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Ending homelessness on skid row won’t happen just because a judge orders it," 21 Apr. 2021 But the new approaches do more than just speed up the process. Quanta Magazine, "Latest Neural Nets Solve World’s Hardest Equations Faster Than Ever Before," 19 Apr. 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

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Speed.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/speed. Accessed 18 May. 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

Comments on speed

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