\ 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 Holgreg previously said investigators believed Harris was impaired and that speed was another factor in the crash. USA TODAY, "Country singer Kylie Rae Harris was impaired, driving 95 mph during fatal crash," 7 Dec. 2019 High speed was a factor in the crash, which remained under investigation Friday, police said. Jesse Garza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Driver killed in early morning crash near downtown Milwaukee," 6 Dec. 2019 Johnson's speed and moves create mismatches against linebackers. Aaron Wilson, Houston Chronicle, "Texans' Duke Johnson reflects on trade: 'Figured it would be a good change of scenery'," 6 Dec. 2019 Kern is a pianist of muscle and blazing, headlong speed: the densest passagework cruised, even occasionally hurtling past Slatkin’s warm, firmly outlined accompaniment. Matthew Guerrieri, Washington Post, "Leonard Slatkin gives himself a 75th birthday present: a reunion with the NSO," 6 Dec. 2019 Engineers would install technology to limit engine speed and torque but a driver could still get some power from pushing the accelerator. Phoebe Wall Howard, Freep.com, "Ford workers break their silence on faulty transmissions: 'Everybody knew'," 5 Dec. 2019 The only thing missing is a speed guy who can deliver the big play off the perimeter. Mike Preston, baltimoresun.com, "Mike Preston hands out the Ravens’ third-quarter report card," 5 Dec. 2019 Specifically, two black holes of even mass should spin at 70 percent of a theoretical top speed after colliding, so Bartos and his colleagues are on the lookout for collisions between already whirling dervishes. Charlie Wood, Scientific American, "Black Hole Factories May Hide at Cores of Giant Galaxies," 4 Dec. 2019 The increase in transistors, in turn, boosts the computing power of computers running them, giving computers increased speed and performance over time. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "New crypto-cracking record reached, with less help than usual from Moore’s Law," 3 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Hyperthyroidism can also speed up your metabolism, and may lead to weight loss, while hypothyroidism can cause weight gain. Hallie Levine, Health.com, "What Every Woman Should Know About Her Thyroid Gland," 5 Dec. 2019 It’s time Congress took notice and brought itself up to speed — on a bipartisan basis. Jason Grumet And Garrett Johnson, Twin Cities, "Grumet, Johnson: American competitiveness requires a smarter Congress," 2 Dec. 2019 Directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, Frozen 2 is speeding toward the $1 billion mark after finishing Sunday with a domestic total of $287.6 million and a staggering $738.6 million cume globally. Pamela Mcclintock, The Hollywood Reporter, "Box Office: 'Frozen 2' Propels Disney Past Record $3.2B in Domestic Ticket Sales," 1 Dec. 2019 As the car sped away, a young mother and her 5½-year-old daughter came out of the shops to find the guard on the ground. USA Today, "JFK files: CIA spy in Cuba ‘befriended’ Castro, Che; played key role amid nuclear-war fears," 21 Nov. 2019 Jones is bringing himself up to speed on what steps are needed to move the project forward, including making sure any design plans are in line with federal flood-elevation regulations. Carissa D. Lamkahouan, Houston Chronicle, "New Dickinson official focuses on business growth," 15 Nov. 2019 Diving into the data Like a lot of employers, school districts are increasingly turning to recruiting software to help ease—and speed up—the hiring process. Michelle Cheng, Quartz at Work, "An experiment to find teachers who perform better and stay longer shows promising results," 7 Nov. 2019 Michael’s last two years were a speeding up of his slowing down. Carolita Johnson, Longreads, "A Woman’s Work: Till Death Do Us Part," 28 Oct. 2019 After speeding through Debbie Harry’s eventful life in just 245 pages, the final chapter of the Blondie singer’s memoir, Face It, lists stuff about thumbs. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Debbie Harry Stares Back," 12 Oct. 2019

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

9 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Speed.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/speedster?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=s&file=speed002. Accessed 12 December 2019.

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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

Comments on speed

What made you want to look up speed? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a period of high artistic development

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