speak Definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo

Definition of “speak” - English Dictionary

"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 ​adverbsending in -ly to show that you are ​talking from a ​particularpoint 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 ​formaltalk: 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 ​shadyfinancialdealings between the ​partners. [T] Her ​face spoke ​volumes (= ​showedclearly what she ​thought).
(Definition of speak from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)







"speak" in British English

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speakverb

uk   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 Americanaccent. Why are you speaking in a ​whisper (= very ​quietly)? For five ​wholeminutes, neither of them spoke a word (= they both said nothing).broadly, historically, strictly, etc. speaking B2 talking from a ​particularpoint of ​view: Historically speaking, the ​island is of ​greatinterest. Generally speaking, it's a good ​school. Strictly speaking (= if I ​behaveaccording to the ​rules), I should ​report it to the ​police.speak to sb to ​tell someone that they have done something ​wrong: The ​managerpromised that she would speak to the ​personresponsible.

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  • speak verb (LANGUAGE)

A1 [T] to (be ​able to) ​talk in a ​language: He speaks ​fluentFrench. How many ​foreignlanguages 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 ​formaltalk to a ​group of ​people: Who is speaking in the ​debatetonight? The Queen speaks to the ​nation on ​television every ​Christmas. Janet is speaking for the ​motion (= ​trying to ​persuade the ​peoplelistening 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 ​realfeelings for him. The ​wholerobbery spoke of (= made it ​seem that there had been) inside ​knowledge on the ​part of the ​criminals.

-speaksuffix

uk   us   /-spiːk/ informal mainly disapproving
used to ​formnouns to ​mean the ​speciallanguage used in a ​particularsubjectarea or ​business: computer-speak marketing-speak
(Definition of speak from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"-speak" in Business English

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-speaksuffix

the ​speciallanguage used in a particular ​subjectarea or ​business: business-speak management-speak
(Definition of -speak from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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