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English definition of “speak”

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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.
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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 work 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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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)
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