speak

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
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See also: -speak

English[edit]

English Wikipedia has an article on:
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Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English speken (to speak), from Old English specan (to speak), alteration of earlier sprecan (to speak), from Proto-Germanic *sprekaną (to speak, make a sound), from Proto-Indo-European *spreg- (to make a sound, utter, speak). Cognate with West Frisian sprekke, Low German spreken (to speak), Dutch spreken (to speak), German sprechen (to speak), and also with Albanian shpreh (to utter, voice, express) through Indo-European.

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

speak (third-person singular simple present speaks, present participle speaking, simple past spoke or (archaic) spake, past participle spoken or (colloquial, nonstandard) spoke)

  1. (intransitive) To communicate with one's voice, to say words out loud.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 13, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      And Vickers launched forth into a tirade very different from his platform utterances. He spoke with extreme contempt of the dense stupidity exhibited on all occasions by the working classes. He said that if you wanted to do anything for them, you must rule them, not pamper them.
    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.
      • 1998, Nigel G Fielding, ‎Raymond M Lee, Computer Analysis and Qualitative Research[1], page 4:
        Even those who did 'speak computer' did so sometimes in a less than fluent way which required a jump to be made from a press-the-right-button stage to having the confidence to experiment.
  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.
  10. (transitive, archaic) To address; to accost; to speak to.
    • Bible, Ecclus. xiii. 6
      [He will] thee in hope; he will speak thee fair.
    • (Can we date this quote by Emerson and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      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.
Usage notes[edit]
  • Saying that one speaks a language often means that one can or knows how to speak it ("I speak Italian"); similarly, "I don't speak Italian" usually means that one cannot, rather than that one chooses not to.

Synonyms[edit]

Antonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Related 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 Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Noun[edit]

speak (countable and uncountable, plural speaks)

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

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Noun[edit]

speak (plural speaks)

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

Anagrams[edit]


Scots[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

speak (third-person singular present speaks, present participle speakin, past spak, past participle spoken)

  1. to speak

Derived terms[edit]