Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “speak”

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 Ian 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.

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.

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).

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

yo

used as an informal greeting between people who know each other or as an expression of approval

Word of the Day

Come on – you can do it! Phrasal verbs with ‘come’.

by Liz Walter​,
November 19, 2014
As part of an occasional series on the tricky subject of phrasal verbs, this blog looks at ones formed with the verb ‘come’. If you are reading this blog, I’m sure you already know come from, as it is one of the first things you learn in class: I come from Scotland/Spain.

Read More 

silver splicer noun

November 17, 2014
informal a person who marries in later life Newly retired and now newlywed – rise of the ‘silver splicers’ Reaching pension age becomes a trigger to tie the knot as baby-boomers begin to redefine retirement

Read More