- (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 © 2015
- 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;
- 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.
- [no object] to communicate with the voice; mention:I'll speak to him about your problem tomorrow.
- [no object] to converse:They're so mad at each other they're not even speaking anymore.
- [no object] to deliver an address, discourse, etc.: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.
-speak is attached to the ends of words and sometimes roots to form compound nouns that name the style or vocabulary of a certain field of work, interest, etc., that is mentioned in the first word or root:ad(vertising) + -speak → adspeak (= the jargon of advertising); art + -speak → artspeak (= the language used in discussing art).
v., spoke or (Archaic)spake;
spo•ken or (Archaic)spoke;
talk:He was too ill to speak.
make a noise or report.
- 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)
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.
a combining form extracted from newspeak, used in the formation of compound words, usually derogatory, that denote the style or vocabulary of a discipline, person, era, etc., as specified by the initial element:adspeak; artspeak;
- 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