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  • IPA(key): /spiːd/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːd

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English spede (prosperity, good luck, quickness, success), from Old English spēd (success), from Proto-West Germanic *spōdi (prosperity, success), from Proto-West Germanic *spōan, from Proto-Germanic *spōaną (to prosper, succeed, be happy), from Proto-Indo-European *speh₁- (to prosper, turn out well). Cognate with Scots spede, speid (success, quickness, speed), Dutch spoed (haste; speed), German Low German Spood (haste; speed; eagerness; success), German Sput (progress, acceleration, haste). Related also to Old English spōwan (to be successful, succeed), Albanian shpejt (to speed, to hurry) and Russian спеши́ть (spešítʹ, to hurry), Latin spēs (hope, expectation), spērō (hope, verb), perhaps also to Ancient Greek σπεύδω (speúdō, to urge on, hasten, press on).


speed (countable and uncountable, plural speeds)

  1. The state of moving quickly or the capacity for rapid motion.
    Synonyms: celerity, rapidity, velocity; see also Thesaurus:speed
    How does Usain Bolt run at that speed?
  2. (mathematics, physics) The rate of motion or action, specifically the magnitude of the velocity; the rate distance is traversed in a given time.
    Hyponyms: lightspeed, speed of light, speed of sound
    Speed limits provide information to the drivers about the safe speed to travel in average conditions.
  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 (shutter speed).
  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, uncountable) Amphetamine or any amphetamine-based drug (especially methamphetamine) used as a stimulant, especially illegally.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:methamphetamine
  8. (archaic) Luck, success, prosperity.
  9. (slang) Personal preference.
    We could go to the shore next week, or somewhere else if that's not your speed.
  10. (finance, uncountable) A third-order measure of derivative price sensitivity, expressed as the rate of change of gamma with respect to changes in the underlying asset price.
    Synonyms: DgammaDspot, gamma of the gamma
    Hypernym: Greeks
Derived terms[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)



  1. (film) Called by the soundman when the recording equipment has reached running speed and is ready to go.
    • 2000, Brian J. Hayes, A Boy Scout in Hollywood, page 30:
      Speed,” Carlos, the soundman, said. []
      “Rolling,” replied Bryce, the cameraman.
    • 2012, Tom Mascaro, Into the Fray, page 52:
      [] the director called, “Roll 'em,” the sound man said, “Speed,” and Norling stepped in and said, []

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English speden, from Old English spēdan (to speed, prosper, succeed, have success), from Proto-West Germanic *spōdijan (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).


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

  1. (intransitive, archaic) To succeed; to prosper, be lucky.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter 1, in Le Morte Darthur, book I:
      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
      (please add an English translation of this quotation)
    • c. 1596–1598 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene i]:
      We have been praying for our husbands' healths,
      Which speed, we hope, the better for our words.
      Are they returned?
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, →OCLC, partition I, section 2, member 4, subsection 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.
  4. (intransitive) To exceed the speed limit.
    Why do you speed when the road is so icy?
    • 1951, J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown and Company, →OCLC, page 25:
      It had these very funny, crazy plays in it, and then it had this one story about a traffic cop that falls in love with this very cute girl that’s always speeding.
  5. (transitive) To increase the rate at which something occurs.
    • 1982, Carole Offir, Carole Wade, Human sexuality,, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, page 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, page 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.
    • 1972, Lou Reed (lyrics and music), “Walk on the Wild Side”, in Transformer:
      Jackie is just speeding away / Thought she was James Dean for a day
    • 2008, Christos Tsiolkas, The Slap, Allen and Unwin, page 46:
      If Hector had not been speeding, it was possible that his next thought would have hurt: he loves his uncle unconditionally, in a way he will never love me.
  7. (obsolete) To be expedient.
  8. (archaic) To hurry to destruction; to put an end to; to ruin.
  9. (archaic) To wish success or good fortune to, in any undertaking, especially in setting out upon a journey.
  10. To cause to make haste; to dispatch with celerity; to drive at full speed; hence, to hasten; to hurry.
  11. To hasten to a conclusion; to expedite.
    • 1726, John Ayliffe, Parergon Juris Canonici Anglicani: Or, A Commentary, by Way of Supplement to the Canons and Constitutions of the Church of England. [], London: [] D. Leach, and sold by John Walthoe [], →OCLC:
      Judicial acts [] are sped in open court at the instance of one or both of the parties.
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]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.




Unadapted borrowing from English speed.

Attested since at least 1971.



speed m (uncountable)

  1. (slang) amphetamines




Borrowed from English speed.



speed m (plural speeds)

  1. speed (amphetamine)