verb (used without object), spoke or (Archaic) spake; spo·ken or (Archaic) spoke; speak·ing.
- 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 about 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. to produce sounds or audible sequences of individual or concatenated sounds of a language, especially through phonation, amplification, and resonance, and through any of a variety of articulatory processes.
- (of a computer) to express data or other information audibly by means of an audio response unit.
- to emit a sound, as a musical instrument; make a noise or report.
- Chiefly British. (of dogs) to bark when ordered.
- Fox Hunting. (of a hound or pack) to bay on finding a scent.
verb (used with object), spoke or (Archaic) spake; spo·ken or (Archaic) spoke; speak·ing.
- 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.
- (of a computer) to express or make known (data, prompts, etc.) by means of an audio response unit.
- Nautical. 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.
- speak for,
- to intercede for or recommend; speak in behalf of.
- to express or articulate the views of; represent.
- to choose or prefer; have reserved for oneself: This item is already spoken for.
- 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.
- 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 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.
verb speaks, speaking, spoke or spoken
- to make (verbal utterances); utter (words)
- to communicate or express (something) in or as if in wordsI speak the truth
- (intr) to deliver a speech, discourse, etc
- (tr) to know how to talk in (a language or dialect)he does not speak German
- (intr) to make a characteristic soundthe clock spoke
- (intr) (of dogs, esp hounds used in hunting) to give tongue; bark
- (tr) nautical to hail and converse or communicate with (another vessel) at sea
- (intr) (of a musical instrument) to produce a sound
- (intr foll by for) to be a representative or advocate (of)he speaks for all the members
- 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 naturewe have had no support to speak of
v.Old English specan, variant of sprecan “to speak” (class V strong verb; past tense spræc, past participle sprecen), from Proto-Germanic *sprekanan (cf. Old Saxon sprecan, Old Frisian spreka, Middle Dutch spreken, Old High German sprehhan, German sprechen “to speak,” Old Norse spraki “rumor, report”), cognate with Latin spargere “to strew” (speech as a “scattering” of words; see sparse). The -r- began to drop out in Late West Saxon and was gone by mid-12c., perhaps from influence of Danish spage “crackle,” in a slang sense of “speak” (cf. crack in slang senses having to do with speech, e.g. wisecrack, cracker, all it’s cracked up to be). Rare variant forms without -r- also are found in Middle Dutch (speken) and Old High German (spehhan). Not the primary word for “to speak” in Old English (the “Beowulf” author prefers maþelian, from mæþel “assembly, council,” from root of metan “to meet;” cf. Greek agoreuo “to speak,” originally “speak in the assembly,” from agora “assembly”). Worth mentioning; see nothing to speak of; not to mention. In addition to the idioms beginning with speak