- (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 © 2019
- 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.
- 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.
- 1200–50; Middle English; 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.
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;
- Phoneticsto 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 Termsto 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.
- speak for:
- 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.
- to intercede for or recommend;
- speak out, to express one's opinion openly and unreservedly:He was not afraid to speak out when it was something he believed in strongly.
- speak well for, to be an indication or reflection of (something commendable);
testify admirably to:Her manners speak well for her upbringing.
- to speak of, worth mentioning:The country has no mineral resources to speak of.
- bef. 900; Middle English speken, Old English specan, variant of sprecan; cognate with German sprechen (Old High German sprehhan; compare variant spehhan)
- 1.See corresponding entry in Unabridged 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.See corresponding entry in Unabridged pronounce, articulate.
- 13.See corresponding entry in Unabridged say.
- 15.See corresponding entry in Unabridged 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