speaks; spoke/ˈspoʊk/; spoken/ˈspoʊkən/; speaking speaks; spoke/ˈspoʊk/; spoken/ˈspoʊkən/; speaking
Learner's definition of SPEAK
1 a [no object] : to say words in order to express your thoughts, feelings, opinions, etc., to someone : to talk to someone
— often + to
Have you two spoken since yesterday?
She and I spoke this morning.
He never speaks at the meetings.
Without speaking, she walked from the room.
They were speaking in Japanese.
— often + with in U.S. English
We need to speak to our son's teacher about his grades.
He spoke to the police through an interpreter.
They spoke to each other in a whisper.
— often used at the beginning of telephone conversations b [no object] : to talk about a particular subject or person — often + about or of
The coach refused to speak with the reporters.
May I speak with you privately?
I spoke with him on the phone yesterday.
c [no object] : to say words to express yourself in a particular way
She spoke intelligently about the current political situation.
He still speaks of his ex-wife with affection.
The company is doing very well, financially speaking. [=is doing very well financially]
d [+ object] : to say (something) to someone
When I said you were my best friend, I was speaking sincerely.
Speaking personally, I don't think you should take the job. [=my personal opinion is that you should not take the job]
Generally speaking, people like her as a leader. [=people in general like her as a leader]
The restaurant isn't too expensive, comparatively/relatively speaking. [=when compared to other restaurants]
Speaking as a student (myself), I'm concerned about the alarming increase in school violence.
She must be speaking the truth.
Not a word was spoken between them the whole time.
Don't be afraid to speak your mind. [=say what you think]
Do not speak a word of this to anyone else. [=do not tell anyone else anything about this]
2 : to use your voice to say words
He has laryngitis and can't speak.
You're speaking too fast/loudly.
She speaks with a Southern accent.
I was so surprised I could hardly speak.
She got a speaking part/role in the play. [=she got a part/role for which she says words]
He has a very deep speaking voice. [=his voice is very deep when he speaks]
3 [no object] : to be willing to talk to someone after having a disagreement, fight, etc.
They haven't spoken since the argument two years ago.
Are they still not speaking?
He apologized, so I'm speaking with/to him again.
They're not on speaking terms. [=they're not friendly and do not speak to each other]
4 [+ object] : to use (a particular language) to talk to someone
He can speak German and French.
English is widely spoken in many parts of the world.
We didn't know what language they were speaking.
the Spanish-speaking population/world
I can't speak a word of French. [=I do not know any French]
5 [no object] : to talk about something formally to a group of people : to make or give a speech
She was asked to speak at the conference.
He has a talent for speaking to large audiences.
While most of the senators spoke against tax increases, one senator spoke in favor of them.
I have a speaking engagement [=I will be giving a speech] this evening.
actions speak louder than words
so to speak
— used to indicate that you are using words in an unusual or figurative way rather than a literal way
speak for[phrasal verb]
1 speak for (someone) : to express the thoughts or opinions of (someone)
— often used figuratively
They chose him to speak for the group.
Speaking only for myself, I'm against the plan. [=I'm only expressing my own opinion when I say that I'm against the plan]
“We don't want any dessert.” “Speak for yourself. I want some.”
2 speak for (something or someone)chiefly US : to show that (something or someone) does or does not deserve to be praised, admired, etc.
It speaks well for [=says a lot for] the company that it donates so much money to local charities.
Her calm reaction to the crisis speaks well for her ability to perform under pressure.
The test results speak poorly for our school system.
3 be spoken for : to not be available because of already being claimed by someone else or in a relationship with someone else
speak of[phrasal verb]
1 speak of (someone or something) : to talk or write about (someone or something) : to mention (a subject) in speech or writing
Speaking of Jill, where is she?
It was the first time she spoke of going to law school.
She never speaks of her suffering during the war.
In the letter, he spoke of feeling ill.
2 speak of (something) : to indicate or suggest (something)
speak of (someone or something)
3 a : to talk about (someone or something) in a specified way b chiefly US : to show that (someone or something) does or does not deserve to be praised, admired, etc.
speak out[phrasal verb]
: to speak freely and confidently about something : to express an opinion in an open way — often + against
speak up[phrasal verb]
1 : to speak loudly and clearly 2 : to speak at a meeting, in a class, etc. 3 : to speak freely and confidently about something : to express an opinion openly — often + for
to speak of
: worth mentioning or noticing speak and talk mean to express yourself by saying words. speak refers to anything that is said, whether it is understood or not and whether it is heard or not. talk suggests that there is a listener who understands what is said and often that both people do some speaking.