From Middle English specheles, from Old English sprǣċlēas (speechless; without the power of speak), from Proto-Germanic *sprēkalausaz, equivalent to speech +‎ -less. Cognate with West Frisian sprakeleas (speechless), Dutch sprakeloos (speechless), German Low German spraaklos (speechless), German sprachlos (speechless).


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈspiːt͡ʃ.lɪs/
  • (file)


speechless (not comparable)

  1. Not speaking; not knowing what to say; silent, especially due to surprise, amazement, etc.
    When he walked into his surprise birthday party, he was completely speechless.
    • 1966, James Workman, The Mad Emperor, Melbourne, Sydney: Scripts, page 62:
      The attack was so unwarranted and delivered with such venom that his unpreparedness for it left him speechless.
  2. (archaic) Synonym of unspeakable.
    • 1690, John Dryden, The State of Innocence, and Fall of Man, J.M., page 14:
      Immortal Pleaſures round my ſwimming Eyes did dance,
      And ſpeechleſs Joys, in whoſe ſweet Tumult toſt,
      I thought my Breath, and my new Being loſt.
    • 1902, Gilbert Murray, Euripides, Longmans, Green, and co., page 32:
      O Mother Earth, O Sun that makest clean,
      What poison have I heard, what speechless sin !

Derived termsEdit