Meaning of “speed” in the English Dictionary

"speed" in British English

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uk /spiːd/ us /spiːd/

speed noun (RATE OF MOVEMENT)

B1 [ C or U ] how fast something moves:

He was travelling at a speed of 90 mph.
The car has a top speed of 155 miles per hour.
You should lower/reduce your speed as you approach a junction.
On a clear, straight road you can gather/pick up speed.
He came off the road while driving his car round a bend at high/breakneck speed (= very fast).
There are speed restrictions (= controls on how fast traffic is allowed to move) on this part of the road.
an electric drill with two speeds (= rates at which it turns)

B2 [ U ] very fast movement:

I get a real thrill from speed.
He put on a sudden burst of speed.
Both cars were travelling at speed (= very fast) when the accident happened.

[ U ] how fast something happens:

We were surprised at the speed of the response to our enquiry.
It was the speed at which it all happened that shocked me.
She got through her work with speed (= quickly) and efficiency.
the speed of light/sound

the rate at which light or sound travels:

The speed of light is 300 million metres per second.
These planes travel at twice the speed of sound.

[ C ] a gear noun :

a bicycle with ten speeds
a ten-speed bicycle

[ C ] the rate at which a photographic film absorbs or reacts to light:

What speed film do I need for taking photographs indoors?
shutter speed

the length of time for which part of a camera is open to allow light to reach the film when a photograph is being taken:

a high/low shutter speed

More examples

  • The hummingbird beats its wings at great speed.
  • With this drill it's possible to adjust the speed of rotation.
  • The engine shuts off automatically when the desired speed is reached.
  • Slack off your speed as you approach the corner.
  • The police car drove past at a terrific speed.


speedverb [ I or T, usually + adv/prep ]

uk /spiːd/ us /spiːd/ sped or speeded, sped or speeded

to (cause to) move, go, or happen fast:

The train sped along at over 120 miles per hour.
The actress then sped away/off in a waiting car.
We sped down the ski slopes.
This year is speeding by/past.
Ambulances sped the injured people (= moved them quickly) away from the scene.
The best thing you can do to speed your recovery (= make it quicker) is to rest.
be speeding

to be driving faster than you are legally allowed to do:

He was caught speeding.

More examples

  • O'er land and sea they sped.
  • The car pulled off and sped up the road.
  • The train sped through the station with a whoosh.
  • We are trying to speed investment in the area.
  • Four boys on motorbikes came speeding down the road.

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “speed” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"speed" in American English

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speednoun [ C/U ]

us /spid/

(a) rate at which something moves or happens:

[ C ] a speed of 25 miles per hour
[ U ] Both cars were traveling at high speed.
[ U ] They came racing down the hill at top speed (= as fast as they could go).
[ U ] The processing speed of my new computer is much faster.
[ C ] This electric drill has two speeds (= rates at which it turns).

physics Speed is also the rate at which something travels, expressed as the number of meters in a second.

A speed is also a gear (= part that controls the rate at which a vehicle moves):

[ C ] I have a ten-speed bicycle.
adverb us /ˈspi·dəl·i/

The error can be speedily corrected.

speedverb [ I/T ]

us /spid/ past tense and past participle sped /sped/ speeded

to move, go, or happen fast, or to cause something to happen fast:

[ I ] The train sped along at over 120 miles per hour.
[ I ] This year seems to be speeding by/past.
[ T ] Ambulances sped the injured people (= moved them quickly) away from the scene.

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “speed” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"speed" in Business English

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uk /spiːd/ us

[ C or U ] IT, INTERNET the rate at which a computer or an internet connection operates and provides information:

Increase the speed of your computer with our new software.
How do I verify my computer's CPU speed?
First you need to find out what your internet connection speed is.
up to speed

if you are up to speed with a subject or activity, you have all the latest information necessary to understand or do something well:

A few days training on the new computer system will get / you up to speed.
Before we start the meeting I'm going to bring / you up to speed with the latest developments.

(Definition of “speed” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)