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Meaning of “speak” in the English Dictionary

"speak" in British English

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speakverb

uk   /spiːk/ us   /spiːk/ spoke, spoken
  • 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 Scott please?" "Speaking." (= This is Scott.) 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 New York? 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 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.

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  • 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 figure out what language they were speaking.

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  • 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).

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-speaksuffix

uk   / -spiːk/ us   / -spiːk/ informal mainly disapproving
used to form nouns to mean the special language used in a particular subject area or business: computer-speak marketing-speak
(Definition of speak from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"speak" in American English

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speakverb

us   /spik/ past tense spoke /spoʊk/ , past participle spoken /ˈspoʊ·kən/
  • speak verb (SAY WORDS)

[I/T] to say words, to use the voice, or to have a conversation with someone: [I] I heard someone speaking in the hallway. [I] Please speak louder. [I] "I’ll never speak to you again," he said angrily. [T] No one spoke a word (= No one said anything). [I] She spoke in a whisper (= very quietly).
[I/T] Speaking is used with adverbs ending in -ly to show that you are talking from a particular point of view: [I] Generally speaking, this is what happens when you see a nutritionist.
  • speak verb (KNOW A LANGUAGE)

[T] to talk in a language: How many languages do you speak? He speaks fluent Italian. When I arrived in Canada, I didn’t speak a word of English (= I did not know any English).
  • speak verb (FORMAL TALK)

[I] to give a formal talk: Will you be speaking at the conference? Ted will speak about careers in education.
  • speak verb (SUGGEST)

[I/T] to show or express something without using words: [I always + adv/prep] The incident spoke of shady financial dealings between the partners. [T] Her face spoke volumes (= showed clearly what she thought).
(Definition of speak from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"-speak" in Business English

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-speaksuffix

the special language used in a particular subject area or business: business-speak management-speak
(Definition of -speak from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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