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From Middle English bespeken, bispeken, from Old English *bespecan, besprecan (to speak about, speak against, accuse of, claim at law, complain), from Proto-Germanic *bisprekaną (to discuss, blame), equivalent to be- +‎ speak. Cognate with Scots bespeke (to beseech, speak or negotiate with), West Frisian besprekke (to discuss), Dutch bespreken (to discuss, review, debate), German besprechen (to discuss, review, talk about).


  • IPA(key): /bɪˈspiːk/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːk


bespeak (third-person singular simple present bespeaks, present participle bespeaking, simple past bespoke or (archaic) bespake, past participle bespoken or (archaic) bespoke)

  1. (transitive, formal or archaic) To speak about; tell of; relate; discuss.
  2. (transitive) To speak for beforehand; engage in advance; make arrangements for; order or reserve in advance.
    • 1820, Walter Scott, Ivanhoe; a Romance. [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to III), Edinburgh: [] Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co. [], →OCLC:
      concluding, naturally, that to gratify his avarice was to bespeak his favour
    • 1859, Charles Dickens, The Haunted House:
      I walked on into the village, with the desertion of this house upon my mind, and I found the landlord of the little inn, sanding his door-step. I bespoke breakfast, and broached the subject of the house.
  3. (transitive) To stipulate, solicit, ask for, or request, as in a favour.
    to bespeak a calm hearing;  I bespeak your patience in advance.
  4. (transitive, archaic) To forbode; foretell.
  5. (transitive, archaic, poetic) To speak to; address.
  6. (transitive) To betoken; show; indicate; foretell; suggest; allude to.
    This act bespeaks his kindness.
    • 1689 (indicated as 1690), [John Locke], chapter 3, in An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding. [], London: [] Eliz[abeth] Holt, for Thomas Basset, [], →OCLC:
      When the abbot of St. Martin was born, he had so little the figure of a man that it bespake him rather a monster.
    • 1838, [Letitia Elizabeth] Landon (indicated as editor), chapter XVI, in Duty and Inclination: [], volume II, London: Henry Colburn, [], →OCLC, page 228:
      Turning her looks unconsciously to that part of the assembly where Douglas leaned, engaged in serious contemplation, Ellina chanced to encounter his eye intently fixed upon her; the expression of which bespeaking at once pity and benevolence, her heart, mortified, reproached her for her lightness.
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      This new-comer was a man who in any company would have seemed striking. [] He was smooth-faced, and his fresh skin and well-developed figure bespoke the man in good physical condition through active exercise, yet well content with the world's apportionment.
    • 1921, Printers' Ink, volume 114, page 50:
      Are they telling your story vividly, strikingly, in designs that command attention, in colors that bespeak distinction?
    • 1961 February, Cecil J. Allen, “Locomotive Running Past and Present”, in Trains Illustrated, page 87:
      [...] the drop in speed only from 66 to 53 m.p.h. up the six miles at 1 in 176-200-167 to Saunderton summit bespoke a hard effort, [...]
  7. (intransitive) To speak up or out; exclaim; speak.

Derived terms[edit]



bespeak (plural bespeaks)

  1. (archaic) A request for a specific performance; a benefit performance, by a patron.





  • IPA(key): /bəˈspɪk/
  • (North Northern Scots) IPA(key): /bəˈspɛk/


bespeak (third-person singular simple present bespeaks, present participle bespeakin, simple past bespak, past participle bespoken)

  1. to bespeak