speed

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English[edit]

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Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English spede (prosperity, good luck, quickness, success), from Old English spēd (luck, prosperity, success), from Proto-Germanic *spōdiz (prosperity, success), from Proto-Germanic *spōaną (to prosper, succeed, be happy), from Proto-Indo-European *spē-, *spʰē- (to prosper, turn out well). Cognate with Scots spede, speid (success, quickness, speed), Dutch spoed (haste; speed), Low German spood (haste, speed), German Sput (progress, acceleration, haste). Related also to Old English spōwan (to be successful, succeed), Albanian shpejt (to speed, to hurry) and Russian спешить (sp'éšit', to hurry).

Noun[edit]

speed (plural speeds)

  1. the state of moving quickly or the capacity for rapid motion; rapidity
    How does Usain Bolt run at that speed?
  2. the rate of motion or action, specifically (mathematics)/(physics) the magnitude of the velocity; the rate distance is traversed in a given time
  3. (photography) the sensitivity to light of film, plates or sensor.
  4. (photography) the duration of exposure, the time during which a camera shutter is open.
  5. (photography) the largest size of the lens opening at which a lens can be used.
  6. (photography) the ratio of the focal length to the diameter of a photographic objective.
  7. (slang) any amphetamine drug used as a stimulant, especially illegally, especially methamphetamine
  8. (archaic) luck, success, prosperity
    • Bible, Genesis xxiv. 12
      O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day.
Synonyms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]
See also[edit]

Units for measuring speed: metres/meters per second, m/s, kilometres/kilometers per hour, km/h (metric); knot, kt, kn (nautical); feet per second, ft/s, ft/sec and fps, miles per hour, mph (imperial and U.S. customary); mach (aeronautical)

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English speden, from Old English spēdan (to speed, prosper, succeed, have success), from Proto-Germanic *spōdijanan (to succeed). Cognate with Scots spede, speid (to meet with success, assist, promote, accomplish, speed), Dutch spoeden (to hurry, rush), Low German spoden, spöden (to hasten, speed), German sputen, spuden (to speed).

Verb[edit]

speed (third-person singular simple present speeds, present participle speeding, simple past and past participle (mostly US) sped or (mostly UK) speeded)

  1. (intransitive, archaic) To succeed; to prosper, be lucky.
    • 1485, Syr Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Bk.I, Ch.1:
      And yf I maye fynde suche a knyghte that hath all these vertues / he may drawe oute this swerd oute of the shethe / for I haue ben at kyng Ryons / it was told me ther were passyng good knyghtes / and he and alle his knyghtes haue assayed it and none can spede
    • 1621, Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, I.2.4.vii:
      Aristotle must find out the motion of Euripus; Pliny must needs see Vesuvius; but how sped they? One loseth goods, another his life.
    • 18thc., Oliver Goldsmith, Introductory to Switzerland
      At night returning, every labor sped, / He sits him down the monarch of a shed: / Smiles by his cheerful fire, and round surveys, / His children’s looks, that brighten at the blaze;
  2. (transitive, archaic) To help someone, to give them fortune; to aid or favour.
    God speed, until we meet again.
  3. (intransitive) To go fast.
    The Ferrari was speeding along the road.
    • William Shakespeare (c.1564–1616)
      I have speeded hither with the very extremest inch of possibility.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 10, The China Governess[1]:
      With a little manœuvring they contrived to meet on the doorstep which was […] in a boiling stream of passers-by, hurrying business people speeding past in a flurry of fumes and dust in the bright haze.
  4. (intransitive) To exceed the speed limit.
    Why do you speed when the road is so icy?
  5. (transitive) To increase the rate at which something occurs.
    • 1982, Carole Offir & Carole Wade, Human sexuality, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, p.454:
      It is possible that the uterine contractions speed the sperm along.
    • 2004, James M. Cypher & James L. Dietz, The process of economic development, Routledge, p.359:
      Such interventions can help to speed the process of reducing CBRs and help countries pass through the demographic transition threshold more quickly [].
  6. (intransitive, slang) To be under the influence of stimulant drugs, especially amphetamines.
  7. (obsolete) To be expedient.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Wyclif Bible (2 Corinthians xii. 1.) to this entry?)
  8. (archaic) To hurry to destruction; to put an end to; to ruin.
    • William Shakespeare (c.1564–1616)
      sped with spavins
    • Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
      A dire dilemma! either way I'm sped. / If foes, they write, if friends, they read, me dead.
  9. (archaic) To wish success or good fortune to, in any undertaking, especially in setting out upon a journey.
    • Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
      Welcome the coming, speed the parting guest.
  10. To cause to make haste; to dispatch with celerity; to drive at full speed; hence, to hasten; to hurry.
    • Edward Fairfax (c.1580-1635)
      He sped him thence home to his habitation.
  11. To hasten to a conclusion; to expedite.
    • John Ayliffe (1676-1732)
      Judicial acts [] are sped in open court at the instance of one or both of the parties.
Quotations[edit]
Usage notes[edit]
  • The Cambridge Guide to English Usage indicates that sped is for objects in motion (the race car sped) while speeded is used for activities or processes, but notes that the British English convention does not hold in American English.
  • Garner's Modern American Usage (2009) indicates that speeded is incorrect, except in the phrasal verb, speed up. Most American usage of speeded conforms to this.
  • Sped is about six times more common in American English (COCA) than speeded. Sped is twice as common in UK English (BNC).
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Anagrams[edit]