Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “speak”

See all translations

speak

verb uk   /spiːk/ (spoke, spoken) us  

speak verb (SAY WORDS)

A1 [I or T] to say words, to use the voice, or to have a conversation with someone: Would you mind speaking more slowly, please? mainly UK "Can I speak to Dan please?" mainly US "Can I speak with Ian please?" "Speaking." (= This is Ian.) If he tells Julie what I said, I'll never speak to him again. formal She spoke of her sadness over her father's death. She speaks very highly of (= says good things about) the new director. I can certainly come but I can't speak for my wife (= I can't tell you whether she can or not). formal Who is going to speak for (= represent in a court of law) the accused? He's old enough to speak for himself (= to say what he thinks). I went with Ava - speaking of (= on the subject of) Ava, have you seen her new haircut? We've been invited to Rachel and Jamie's wedding - speaking of which, did you know that they're moving to Ealing? Speaking as (= with my experience as) a mother of four, I can tell you that children are exhausting. Sue speaks with an American accent. Why are you speaking in a whisper (= very quietly)? For five whole minutes, neither of them spoke a word (= they both said nothing).broadly, historically, strictly, etc. speaking B2 talking from a particular point of view: Historically speaking, the island is of great interest. Generally speaking, it's quite a good school. Strictly speaking (= if I behave according to the rules), I should report it to the police.speak to sb to tell someone that they have done something wrong: The manager promised that she would speak to the person responsible.
More examples

speak verb (LANGUAGE)

A1 [T] to (be able to) talk in a language: He speaks fluent French. How many foreign languages do you speak? I couldn't speak a word of (= I did not know any) Spanish when I got there. I couldn't work out what language they were speaking.
More examples

speak verb (FORMAL TALK)

B2 [I] to give a formal talk to a group of people: Who is speaking in the debate tonight? The Queen speaks to the nation on television every Christmas. Janet is speaking for the motion (= trying to persuade the people listening that the idea is good) and Peter is speaking against (it) (= trying to persuade them that it is bad).
More examples

speak verb (SUGGEST)

[I + adv/prep, T] literary to show or express something without using words: She was silent, but her eyes spoke her real feelings for him. The whole robbery spoke of (= made it seem that there had been) inside knowledge on the part of the criminals.
(Definition of speak verb from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of speak?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “speak” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

christmassy

typical of Christmas, or happy because it is Christmas

Word of the Day

Cleavage proves divisive in Cambridge’s words of 2014

by Alastair Horne,
December 19, 2014
​​​​ Other dictionaries may choose faddish novelties as their words of the year, but here at Cambridge, we like to do something different. We look for the words that have seen sudden surges in searches over the course of the year – words that have been baffling users of English and driven them

Read More 

tweleb noun

December 22, 2014
informal a Twitter celebrity; (more specifically, someone who has more than 1,000 followers on Twitter) There were a few old and a few new faces, including a tweleb or two. Expect to see and hear more from these cool kids.

Read More