- (prenominal) eloquent, impressive, or striking
- able to speak
- (in combination) able to speak a particular language: French-speaking
WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2016
- used when talking normally:His speaking voice barely rose above a whisper.
- (not) on speaking terms, (not) communicating or friendly:(not) on speaking terms with her sister.
- speaking of, [no object] (used to make a connection between a subject that has been raised and a new subject related to the first one):I like the custom of bringing presents to someone's home when you visit. Speaking of presents, you should get a box from us before Christmas.
- the act, utterance, or discourse of a person who speaks.
- Literaturespeakings, literary works composed for recitation, as ancient bardic poetry;
- that speaks.
- used in, suited to, or involving speaking or talking:the speaking voice.
- Rhetoricof or pertaining to declamation.
- giving information as if by speech:a speaking proof of a thing.
- highly expressive:speaking eyes.
- lifelike:a speaking likeness.
- not on speaking terms, not or no longer in a relationship of open, willing, or ready communication, as because of resentment or estrangement:They had a squabble during the holidays, and now they're not on speaking terms.
- in a relationship close enough for or limited to friendly superficialities:I don't know the hosts well, but we are certainly on speaking terms.
- in a relationship of open, willing, or ready communication:Now that the debt has been settled, I hope you and your partner are on speaking terms again.
see speak, -ing1, -ing2
- to say words or pronounce sounds with the ordinary voice;
talk: [no object]He was too frightened to speak.[~ + object]He spoke a few words.
- to communicate with the voice; mention[no object]I'll speak to him about your problem tomorrow.
- to converse[no object]They're so mad at each other they're not even speaking anymore.
- to deliver an address, discourse, etc.[no object]She spoke to our group about the concerns of women.
- to use, or be able to use, (a language) as a way of communicating: [~ + object]We tried to speak Russian.[no object]Try speaking in German.
- speak for, [~ + for + object] to speak in behalf of:I'd like to speak for our partner, who can't be here today.
- Idiomsso to speak, [no object] figuratively speaking:We lost our shirt, so to speak.
- Idiomsspeak well for, [~ + object] to be an indication or reflection of (someone or something good or worthy of praise):Hiring that new coach speaks well for our chances of winning this year.
- Idiomsto speak of, [no object] (used with a negative word or phrase) worth mentioning; hardly at all:They have no debts to speak of.
Compare speak, say, and talk. We use speak before the name of a language:She speaks good Russian,and to express a more formal sense than talk, sometimes with the preposition with or to:May I speak with the boss?The word say is used most often to describe the words one uses in communicating:I didn't say much, just a few words.Sometimes say takes the preposition to; it does not usually take with:I said hello to her, but she didn't say anything to me.The word talk suggests communicating with another, so that there is an exchange;
it may take the preposition to or with:At last the two warring sides sat down and began to talk to each other. We talked with him about our problem.
v., spoke or (Archaic)spake;
spo•ken or (Archaic)spoke;
- to utter words or articulate sounds with the ordinary voice;
talk:He was too ill to speak.
- to communicate vocally; mention:to speak to a person of various matters.
- to converse:She spoke with him for an hour.
- to deliver an address, discourse, etc.:to speak at a meeting.
- to make a statement in written or printed words.
- to communicate, signify, or disclose by any means; convey significance.
- Phonetics[Phonet.]to produce sounds or audible sequences of individual or concatenated sounds of a language, esp. through phonation, amplification, and resonance, and through any of a variety of articulatory processes.
- Computing(of a computer) to express data or other information audibly by means of an audio response unit.
- Computingto emit a sound, as a musical instrument;
make a noise or report.
- British Terms[Chiefly Brit.](of dogs) to bark when ordered.
- Sport[Fox Hunting.](of a hound or pack) to bay on finding a scent.
- to utter vocally and articulately:to speak words of praise.
- to express or make known with the voice:to speak the truth.
- to declare in writing or printing, or by any means of communication.
- to make known, indicate, or reveal.
- to use, or be able to use, in oral utterance, as a language:to speak French.
- Computing(of a computer) to express or make known (data, prompts, etc.) by means of an audio response unit.
- Nautical, Naval Terms[Naut.]to communicate with (a passing vessel) at sea, as by voice or signal:We spoke a whaler on the fourth day at sea.
- [Archaic.]to speak to or with.
- so to speak, to use a manner of speaking; figuratively speaking:We still don't have our heads above water, so to speak.
- speak by the book, to say with great authority or precision:I can't speak by the book, but I know this is wrong.
- to intercede for or recommend; speak in behalf of.
- to express or articulate the views of;
- to choose or prefer;
have reserved for oneself:This item is already spoken for.
cognate with German sprechen (Old High German sprehhan;
compare variant spehhan)
1 . Speak, converse, talk mean to make vocal sounds, usually for purposes of communication. To speak often implies conveying information and may apply to anything from an informal remark to a scholarly presentation to a formal address:to speak sharply;
to speak before Congress.To converse is to exchange ideas with someone by speaking:to converse with a friend.To talk is a close synonym for to speak but usually refers to less formal situations:to talk about the weather; to talk with a friend. 12 . pronounce, articulate. 13 . say. 15 . disclose.
- to make (verbal utterances); utter (words)
- to communicate or express (something) in or as if in words
- (intransitive) to deliver a speech, discourse, etc
- (transitive) to know how to talk in (a language or dialect): he does not speak German
- (intransitive) to make a characteristic sound: the clock spoke
- (intransitive) (of dogs, esp hounds used in hunting) to give tongue; bark
- (transitive) to hail and converse or communicate with (another vessel) at sea
- (intransitive) (of a musical instrument) to produce a sound
- on speaking terms ⇒ on good terms; friendly
- so to speak ⇒ in a manner of speaking; as it were
- speak one's mind ⇒ to express one's opinions frankly and plainly
- to speak of ⇒ of a significant or worthwhile nature: we have had no support to speak of
See also speak for, speak out, speak to, speak upEtymology: Old English specan; related to Old High German spehhan, Middle High German spechten to gossip, Middle Dutch speken; see speech