See also: -speak

English edit

 
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Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

From Middle English speken (to speak), from Old English specan (to speak). This is usually taken to be an irregular alteration of earlier sprecan (to speak), from Proto-West Germanic *sprekan, from Proto-Germanic *sprekaną (to speak, make a sound), from Proto-Indo-European *spreg- (to make a sound, utter, speak). Finding this proposed loss of r from the stable cluster spr unparalleled, Hill instead sets up a different root, Proto-West Germanic *spekan (to negotiate) from Proto-Indo-European *bʰégʾ-e- (to distribute) with *s-mobile, which collapsed in meaning with *sprekan ("to speak" < "to crackle, prattle") and so came to be seen as a free variant thereof.

Pronunciation edit

Verb edit

speak (third-person singular simple present speaks, present participle speaking, simple past spoke or (archaic) spake, past participle spoken or (colloquial, nonstandard) spoke)

  1. (intransitive) To communicate with one's voice, to say words out loud.
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter XXV, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC, page 203:
      And Vickers launched forth into a tirade very different from his platform utterances. He spoke with extreme contempt of the dense stupidity exhibited on all occasions by the working classes. He said that if you wanted to do anything for them, you must rule them, not pamper them.
    I was so surprised I couldn't speak.
    You're speaking too fast.
  2. (intransitive, reciprocal) To have a conversation.
    It's been ages since we've spoken.
  3. (by extension) To communicate or converse by some means other than orally, such as writing or facial expressions.
    He spoke of it in his diary.
    Speak to me only with your eyes.
    Actions speak louder than words.
    • 1905, Lord Dunsany [i.e., Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany], The Gods of Pegāna[1], London: [Charles] Elkin Mathews, [], →OCLC:
      Then said the gods, making the signs of the gods and speaking with Their hands lest the silence of Pegāna should blush; then said the gods to one another, speaking with Their hands: “Let Us make worlds to amuse Ourselves while Māna rests. Let Us make worlds and Life and Death, and colours in the sky; only let Us not break the silence upon Pegāna.”
    • 1941, Theodore Roethke, “Open House”, in Open House; republished in The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke, 1975, →ISBN, page 3:
      The deed will speak the truth
      In language strict and pure.
      I stop the lying mouth:
      Rage warps my clearest cry
      To witless agony.
  4. (intransitive) To deliver a message to a group; to deliver a speech.
    This evening I shall speak on the topic of correct English usage.
  5. (transitive, stative) To be able to communicate in a language.
    He speaks Mandarin fluently.
    1. (by extension) To be able to communicate in the manner of specialists in a field.
      • 1998, Nigel G Fielding, Raymond M Lee, Computer Analysis and Qualitative Research[2], page 4:
        Even those who did 'speak computer' did so sometimes in a less than fluent way which required a jump to be made from a press-the-right-button stage to having the confidence to experiment.
  6. (transitive) To utter.
    I was so surprised that I couldn't speak a word.
  7. (transitive) To communicate (some fact or feeling); to bespeak, to indicate.
  8. (informal, transitive, sometimes humorous) To understand (as though it were a language).
    Sorry, I don't speak idiot.
    So you can program in C. But do you speak C++?
  9. (intransitive) To produce a sound; to sound.
  10. Of a bird, to be able to vocally reproduce words or phrases from a human language.
    • 1936, Rollo Ahmed, The Black Art, London: Long, page 220:
      Miles tremblingly confessed that it had, but to no purpose; a parrot being able to speak better in three weeks than a brazen head.
  11. (transitive, archaic) To address; to accost; to speak to.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Ecclesiasticus 13:6:
      [He will] thee in hope; he will speak thee fair.
    • 1847, R[alph] W[aldo] Emerson, “Threnody”, in Poems, Boston, Mass.: James Munroe and Company, →OCLC, page 239:
      Each village senior paused to scan / And speak the lovely caravan.
    • 1854 August 9, Henry D[avid] Thoreau, “Economy”, in Walden; or, Life in the Woods, Boston, Mass.: Ticknor and Fields, →OCLC:
      To oversee all the details yourself in person; to be at once pilot and captain, and owner and underwriter; to buy and sell and keep the accounts; to read every letter received, and write or read every letter sent; to superintend the discharge of imports night and day; to be upon many parts of the coast almost at the same time—often the richest freight will be discharged upon a Jersey shore;—to be your own telegraph, unweariedly sweeping the horizon, speaking all passing vessels bound coastwise; [...]
    • 2013, George Francis Dow, Slave Ships and Slaving (quoting an older text)
      Spoke the ship Union of Newport, without any anchor. The next day ran down to Acra, where the windlass was again capsized and the pawls broken.

Usage notes edit

  • Saying that one speaks a language often means that one can or knows how to speak it (“I speak Italian”); similarly, “I don’t speak Italian” usually means that one cannot, rather than that one chooses not to.

Conjugation edit

Synonyms edit

Antonyms edit

Coordinate terms edit

Derived terms edit

others (may need to be in above sections, i.e. this is an unsorted dump of Derived terms)

Related terms edit

Translations edit

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Noun edit

speak (countable and uncountable, plural speaks)

  1. (uncountable) language, jargon, or terminology used uniquely in a particular environment or group.
    corporate speak; IT speak
  2. (countable) Speech, conversation. (Can we add an example for this sense?)
  3. (countable, informal) Short for speaker point.
    We will deduct speaks for hesitation.

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

Noun edit

speak (plural speaks)

  1. (dated) a low class bar, a speakeasy.

References edit

  • Hill, Eugen. "Die Präferenztheorie in der historischen Phonologie aus junggrammatischer Perspektive." Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft 28.2 (2009): 231–263.

Anagrams edit

Scots edit

Etymology edit

From Old English sprecan.

Pronunciation edit

Verb edit

speak (third-person singular simple present speaks, present participle speakin, simple past spak, past participle spoken)

  1. to speak

Derived terms edit