Pronunciation Verb

speak (speaks, present participle speaking; past spoke, past participle spoken)

  1. (intransitive) To communicate with one's voice, to say words out loud.
    I was so surprised I couldn't speak.
    You're speaking too fast.
  2. (intransitive, reciprocal) To have a conversation.
    It's been ages since we've spoken.
  3. (by extension) To communicate or converse by some means other than orally, such as writing or facial expressions.
    He spoke of it in his diary.
    Speak to me only with your eyes.
    Actions speak louder than words.
  4. (intransitive) To deliver a message to a group; to deliver a speech.
    This evening I shall speak on the topic of correct English usage.
  5. (transitive) To be able to communicate in a language.
    He speaks Mandarin fluently.
    1. (by extension) To be able to communicate in the manner of specialists in a field.
  6. (transitive) To utter.
    • 1611, Authorized King James Version (Bible translation), Jeremiah 9:5:
      And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.
    I was so surprised that I couldn't speak a word.
  7. (transitive) To communicate (some fact or feeling); to bespeak, to indicate.
    • 1785, Frances Burney, Journals & Letters, Penguin 2001, p. 226:
      Their behaviour to each other speaks the most cordial confidence and happiness.
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick:
      There he sat, his very indifference speaking a nature in which there lurked no civilized hypocrisies and bland deceits.
  8. (informal, transitive, sometimes, humorous) To understand (as though it were a language).
    Sorry, I don't speak idiot.
    So you can program in C. But do you speak C++?
  9. (intransitive) To produce a sound; to sound.
    • c. 1606, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Macbeth”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act V, scene vi]:
      Make all our trumpets speak.
  10. (transitive, archaic) To address; to accost; to speak to.
    • Bible, Ecclus. xiii. 6
      [He will] thee in hope; he will speak thee fair.
    • Each village senior paused to scan / And speak the lovely caravan.
    • 2013, George Francis Dow, Slave Ships and Slaving (quoting an older text)
      Spoke the ship Union of Newport, without any anchor. The next day ran down to Acra, where the windlass was again capsized and the pawls broken.
Synonyms Antonyms Related terms Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations
  • Spanish: mediar palabra, decir
Translations Noun


  1. language, jargon, or terminology used uniquely in a particular environment or group.
    Corporate speak; IT speak.
  2. Speech, conversation.
Translations Noun

speak (plural speaks)

  1. (dated) a low class bar, a speakeasy.

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