Definition of speak in English:

speak

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • 1Say something in order to convey information or to express a feeling:

    ‘in his agitation he was unable to speak’
    ‘she refused to speak about the incident’
    • ‘John stands, open mouthed at the revelation and is left unable to speak.’
    • ‘The prince surveyed the three, trying to speak but unable to find his voice.’
    • ‘Beads of sweat appeared on Miller's forehead as he opened his mouth but was unable to speak.’
    • ‘He nodded, unable to speak as he shoveled food into his mouth.’
    • ‘I open my mouth to speak and Mum raises a hand, to shut me up.’
    • ‘I stood silent, unable to speak as the information slipped into my mind.’
    • ‘Tom suddenly felt himself unable to speak, his throat freezing up and his mouth suddenly going dry.’
    • ‘Unable to speak without her voice cracking, Maple waved him away, feeling the darkness gather.’
    • ‘Her voice was still fluctuating in pitch as she spoke, unable to control her delight at the ludicrous moment.’
    • ‘I was thinking he is a journalist and what if he's gathering information as we speak - maybe I'll just sneak off by myself.’
    • ‘Corman always gives good information whenever he speaks, and even if he talks less than usual, it's worth a listen.’
    • ‘Unable to speak, the girl could only move her mouth to call for her mother's help before falling to the ground unconscious.’
    • ‘During their gigs, the six-some regularly distributes pamphlets of information and speaks on stage about causes they feel strongly about.’
    • ‘I was unable to speak, and I didn't trust my voice either.’
    • ‘He speaks with conviction and conveys emotion well.’
    • ‘She sighed and put her hand to her mouth, almost unable to speak anymore.’
    • ‘He breathed hard through his mouth, almost unable to speak.’
    • ‘The tube was still in his mouth, making him unable to speak.’
    • ‘Israel was quiet, as if digesting that bit of information and then he spoke, harshly and firmly.’
    • ‘She opened her mouth as if to speak, but seemed unable to get the words out.’
    talk, say, say anything, say something
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Have a conversation:
      ‘last time we spoke, you told me you couldn't do the job’
      ‘I'll speak to him if he rings up’
      • ‘Maybe I would have never spoken to you, but that's because you don't speak to anyone.’
      • ‘I mean, if she had this information and she spoke with the police way back, why didn't she dish it out then?’
      • ‘Oh how I wish now that I had spoken to you, instead of waiting for you to speak to me.’
      • ‘It was her decision to go and speak to people she hadn't spoken to in years, not his.’
      • ‘Stephen has never addressed her in conversation, never spoken to her.’
      • ‘Every other movie I've done, I speak, converse, and tell anecdotes and have fun with the press.’
      • ‘Kira and the enemy were now in their own conversation, speaking in their own strange language.’
      • ‘Have you ever heard from them or spoken to them or had any contact at all?’
      • ‘These are all the people who normally never get to speak to film-makers about these issues.’
      • ‘We have mailed all sorts of Rugby Club Secretaries around the country yet many players in teams we have spoken to haven't heard about it.’
      • ‘Even before the incident, the emperor had spoken informally with associates of Cavour about an eventual alliance with Piedmont against Austria.’
      • ‘No one would have to speak to her and she would not have to speak back.’
      • ‘They speak to readers and other bloggers who speak back, through e-mails, comments or on blogs of their own.’
      • ‘Carl watched Emma and Michael intently as they spoke, following the conversation, looking from face to face.’
      • ‘But I only learned the full story when I spoke to a curator at the local museum.’
      • ‘After I had spoken to all of them, there was still one person who I felt as though I still needed to speak to.’
      • ‘How odd is it, that writing seems more real to me than speaking to you in person?’
      • ‘I managed to make her laugh even though I barely talked, but for once I was actually speaking to someone like a real person.’
      • ‘She hadn't really tired to speak to Mark but then Mark hadn't spoken to her or shown any interest in talking at all to her since they had kissed.’
      • ‘Liam smiled, ‘After speaking with my family I was persuaded to speak to you both about arrangements.’’
      have a conversation, talk, have a talk, have a discussion, converse, communicate, chat, have a chat, pass the time of day, have a word, gossip, make conversation
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    2. 1.2[with object] Utter (a word, message, etc.):
      ‘patients copy words spoken by the therapist’
      • ‘As it hovered menacingly, it spoke the now familiar words in its screeching voice.’
      • ‘There were no conversations spoken, and none were needed: talk just sounded hollow and pointless in the big scheme of things.’
      • ‘Not one word had been spoken between Lena and herself.’
      • ‘Tanis looked at Merlin without a word, but the expression on his face spoke a clear message.’
      • ‘They sat there for a few moments, no one saying anything, but no words needing to be spoken.’
      • ‘It has not created a polarized choice between spoken and printed information.’
      • ‘There was a break in the conversation, and I spoke what I was thinking.’
      • ‘Before another word could be spoken, though, the basement door opened again and my mother and I both looked over to see Blaine step into the kitchen.’
      • ‘Before another word can be spoken, everything around him explodes.’
      • ‘Never a truer word has been spoken and if Blue's latest offering is anything to go by they are about to complete what has been a hearty and eventful meal.’
      • ‘But not a word had been spoken to her about such a marriage yet.’
      • ‘Times change, priorities change, but as Faust speaks these words his real message is clear.’
      • ‘‘I love you’ her voice trembled as she spoke the three little words he had been dying to hear.’
      • ‘Before she could speak to whoever had decided to visit her she heard… no, felt a word spoken and something within the door unraveled.’
      • ‘A spell usually consisted of two parts: the words to be spoken and a description of the actions to be taken.’
      • ‘He tried to concentrate on the words that were being spoken around him, but they seemed far away and he struggled to make sense of them as he prepared himself for the worst.’
      • ‘His mouth opened but before a word could be spoken I walked away.’
      • ‘As Rhoen spoke those words a female voice rang out behind him.’
      • ‘Many students felt that parents shouldn't say this to their children; others stated that their own parents had spoken those very words.’
      • ‘The greatest laughs come when we realise the full banality of virtual conversations, when spoken out loud.’
      talk, say, say anything, say something
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    3. 1.3[with object] Communicate in or be able to communicate in (a specified language):
      ‘my mother spoke Russian’
      • ‘Viewers have not always been able to speak this language, certainly not consciously, but it hasn't stopped us trying.’
      • ‘This Vanuatu tribesman could only make hand motions and repeat words in his foreign language, though everyone living on Efate speaks at least some conversational English.’
      • ‘Now that I look back at this he might have been making fun of me for not being able to speak my own language very well, which would have been much more embarrassing.’
      • ‘They have to be able to speak the languages of the scientist and the fishing industry, the tourist operator and the recreational sailor.’
      • ‘He was able to convincingly speak the language of revolution and continued to do so down through the dark days of civil war and into the early 1930s.’
      • ‘Minority groups speak Arabic as well as their own languages at home, and English is widely spoken as a second language.’
      • ‘English is spoken as the primary language at home by 3 percent of the population.’
      • ‘Prospect New Town, for its part, speaks the language of community and celebrates authenticity.’
      • ‘They were also very intelligent and able to speak every language naturally.’
      • ‘She claimed to have graduated from Vassar College, to be able to speak four languages and to have attended the Sorbonne in Paris.’
      • ‘They wanted their kids to be able to speak the language I'm speaking now.’
      • ‘Although he is able to speak some French, and presumably the receptionist is able to speak some English, neither accommodates to the other.’
      • ‘If you want to speak to us (and we do comprise the vast majority of society) then speak in a language that we understand.’
      • ‘Among Ghanaian Americans, more than 100 languages and dialects are spoken.’
      • ‘Do you know which ones are able to speak the language you know?’
      • ‘The Philippines lacks a common language and about eighty languages and dialects are spoken in the islands.’
      • ‘In the ethnically diverse town, several dialects were spoken, and the language of the Husserl home probably was Yiddish.’
      • ‘Over sixty local languages and dialects are spoken, the most widely used of which are Kikongo, Sangha, and Bateke.’
      • ‘Armenians everywhere think that being able to speak the language is an important part of being Armenian.’
      • ‘The dream of many Oneidas is that one day most members will be able to speak the language fluently.’
    4. 1.4 Make a speech or contribute to a debate:
      ‘twenty thousand people attended to hear him speak’
      • ‘I suppose I am in a somewhat unique position to speak about the ‘new’ economy for two reasons.’
      • ‘They also gain a little confidence in public speaking through their oral reports to the class.’
      • ‘I've just realised that I'm speaking from the position of someone who doesn't find that rules make me feel safe.’
      • ‘I suppose I am speaking from the position of a person who sees the question as, essentially, valid.’
      • ‘I was shocked and still am to a degree although I understand it better now that I've heard the jurors speak about their thinking on it.’
      • ‘During his long speech, he finally speaks about the silence in which he has brought up his beloved son.’
      • ‘He spoke in the early afternoon and claimed in his evidence that he left soon afterwards.’
      • ‘A long time ago, when I heard him speak, he said, set yourselves apart from this corrupt generation, be saints.’
      • ‘I also heard him speak at a lecture, which I found inspirational.’
      • ‘Forensically speaking, that information is golden.’
      • ‘And in hearing her speak, I think she comes off very differently.’
      • ‘I do not, however, feel authorized to speak from any other position than that constructed for me by my race, class, and sexual identity.’
      • ‘But the actress has always refused to speak on the issue.’
      • ‘He travelled to hear his hero speak and later sailed with him in Narragansett Bay.’
      • ‘In 1983, I heard him speak in Washington, D.C., and he addressed this very issue.’
      • ‘And as a priest, he's uniquely positioned to speak on the issue.’
      • ‘Camby speaks from a position of hegemonic ideology.’
      • ‘I could speak and debate about people not believing things for quite some time, but I am sure that you would, as would I, like to continue.’
      • ‘In a race for the Ohio Supreme Court, one candidate spoke freely about his views and the other filled his war chest.’
      • ‘In my view, and speaking as someone who worked in this industry for over eleven years, payment protection insurance is one of the most grotesque financial rip-offs ever.’
      give a speech, give a talk, talk, lecture, give a lecture, deliver an address, give a sermon, hold forth, discourse, expound, expatiate, orate, harangue, sermonize, pontificate
      View synonyms
    5. 1.5speak for Express the views or position of (another):
      ‘he claimed to speak for the majority of local people’
      • ‘Kweli may claim to speak for the people, but there is a reason very few are listening.’
      • ‘We begin in Tallahassee with Craig Waters, he is director of public information for the Florida Supreme Court, he speaks for the court.’
      • ‘It was his misfortune to live at the dawn of the democratic age, when the people seldom responded to the call of those who claimed to speak for them.’
      • ‘First, the Court was fractured, producing no single opinion that spoke for a majority of the Justices.’
      • ‘It also implies a critique of any one party, sect or voice that would claim to speak for all or the many.’
      • ‘The growth of Parliament was bound to encroach upon its importance by offering another body which could claim to speak for the nation.’
      • ‘Johnson invoked race in his ads, claiming to speak for African Americans broadly.’
      • ‘Flandin spoke for the majority of conservatives when he opposed it.’
      • ‘It would also place a larger tax burden on all workers, including the ones she claims to be speaking for.’
      • ‘It speaks for the revaluation of matters we dare not ignore.’
      • ‘However, as reps and staff they must present the collective views of the organisation when speaking for it and be held publicly accountable.’
      • ‘In this country, the Constitution is sovereign, and the Supreme Court speaks for the Constitution.’
      • ‘And she does have a right to speak, but not to claim she's speaking for others in these roles.’
      • ‘In Alexandrian courtrooms a defendant was permitted to speak for a certain regulated time.’
      • ‘And you know, the priest is a symbol of one who speaks for God.’
      • ‘Getting jobs is based on your reputation; your work and how you work with people speaks for you.’
      • ‘Daniel speaks for all those who believe they are what their history has made them.’
      • ‘Parliament stands between the government and the governed, as the institution that, in each inter-election period, speaks for the people to the government and speaks for the government to the people.’
      • ‘The president speaks for all the people of this country.’
      • ‘But I voted for it, and actually went to the floor of the Senate and spoke for it.’
      represent, speak on behalf of, act for, act on behalf of, appear for, intercede for, express the views of, act as spokesman for, act as spokeswoman for, act as spokesperson for
      advocate, champion, uphold, defend, stand up for, support, speak in support of, promote, recommend, urge, back, endorse, sponsor, espouse
      View synonyms
    6. 1.6 Convey one's views or position indirectly:
      ‘speaking through his solicitor, he refused to join the debate’
      • ‘I… experienced a shift in awareness when reading some of the longer passages [to the court]. At times I felt like those men were speaking through me.’
      • ‘Then his Honour referred to the majority of the Supreme Court speaking through Justice Black.’
      • ‘Thank you, Sammy, for speaking through this untalented man.’
      • ‘By avoiding stories that involve progeny, Weamys is better able to suggest that Sidney's voice is somehow speaking through her.’
      • ‘Alexander spoke to the general community through a fortnightly column on world affairs in the West Australian among other extra-curricular activities.’
      • ‘I don't want to say that a voice was speaking through me.’
      • ‘It felt like someone else had taken over my body now and was speaking through me and my lips.’
      • ‘We noticed early on that Plato, speaking through Socrates, demands that knowledge be stable.’
      • ‘The company boss - speaking through his financial PR - also denied that the deal had been inked.’
      • ‘Now instead of just speaking through us, they can blog.’
      • ‘It was silent, until it crackled up again, Hirashi's voice speaking through it.’
      • ‘Akidan was surprised at the words: it was as if someone else was speaking through her.’
      • ‘It was distant, full of the fury of a tempest on the sea, but it was Carmel's voice speaking through to him.’
      • ‘That's probably because there was someone else - a dream spirit or something, speaking through your mouth.’
      • ‘Zeynab will be speaking through an interpreter.’
      • ‘It takes a god - Apollo, no less, speaking through his oracle at Delphi - to clear the queen's name and unbind Leontes' eyes.’
      • ‘She could feel the presence of Ishtar welling within her and knew that the Goddess was speaking through her.’
      • ‘The ultimate authority in the church is the Spirit speaking through Scripture.’
    7. 1.7speak to Answer (a question) or address (an issue or problem):
      ‘we should be disappointed if the report did not speak to the issue of literacy’
    8. 1.8speak of Mention or discuss in speech or writing:
      ‘the books speak of betrayal’
      • ‘Her mom had chosen to write to her in Afrikaans and spoke of the daily dealings at the house.’
      • ‘She then spoke of the occasion already referred to when she had seen the blood-stained trousers.’
      • ‘They are a very popular subject of conversation and often spoken of in contemporary Western Arrernte society.’
      • ‘The family spoke of bringing the civil action for damages as recently as four weeks ago.’
      • ‘The book recounts memories of former staff who speak of being very well looked after by the firm.’
      • ‘He speaks of his experience as though it could be anyone's, though Simic's path has been anything but ordinary.’
      • ‘Writing before the council of Nicaea, he speaks of Christ as a secondary deity.’
      • ‘It resembled the kind of cities she saw in books that spoke of what the future would look like.’
      • ‘He begins at the beginning when he speaks of the act of writing.’
      • ‘Rarely shown and unavailable on video, independent cinema aficionados speak of it reverently.’
      • ‘She also spoke of a second boy who slept in the star's room in 1989 when he was around eight or nine years old.’
      • ‘Having travelled widely, Jones feels particularly affected and troubled by the issues he speaks of.’
      • ‘To their friends, Marie speaks of Jean in the present tense, as if he simply were away on a business trip.’
      • ‘Nicholson speaks of his future with the same mix of bravado and worry that marked his early career.’
      • ‘Her general principles are well known and she speaks of them frequently, particularly in her Christmas broadcast each year.’
      • ‘Today, when we speak of scientific knowledge, we are not referring to a body of propositions that any one person knows to be true.’
      • ‘Gray couldn't keep the pride out of his voice when he spoke of his eldest son writing a book.’
      • ‘In lyrics often borrowed from popular culture they speak of defiance and resistance.’
      • ‘To hear these musicians speak of how their lives are enriched by their work, touches me deeply.’
      • ‘The Press spoke of it in terms that could as well have been applied to a marriage between a Habsburg and a Bourbon.’
      mention, make mention of, talk about, discuss, refer to, make reference to, bring in, introduce, remark on, comment on, allude to, advert to, deal with, treat
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  • 2speak toTalk to in order to reprove or advise:

    ‘she tried to speak to Seb about his drinking’
    • ‘Be a good mummy and give Nicky the phone so he can speak to the bad boy and make the bad boy be nice again.’
    • ‘At these moments, the girls spoke to me somewhat more formally and more seriously.’
    • ‘Mr Webb advised Mr Ball to speak to the staff and after Mr Simonet left he did so in an effort to persuade them to stay with CMSD.’
    • ‘Do not associate with the disobedient person; and if you must, speak to him/her as one who needs a warning.’
    • ‘For now, bond yields backed-up somewhat, while currency traders bought dollars as if our Fed chairman was speaking to them directly.’
    • ‘Who will speak to the children about God?’
    • ‘The issue of when to speak to children about sex is long been discussed.’
    reprimand, rebuke, admonish, chastise, chide, upbraid, reprove, reproach, scold, remonstrate with, berate, take to task, pull up, castigate, lambaste, read someone the riot act, give someone a piece of one's mind, haul over the coals, lecture, criticize, censure
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Talk to in order to give or obtain information:
      ‘he had spoken to the police’
      • ‘My instructing solicitor spoke to the applicant this morning.’
      • ‘Ellen dashed from the convertible and went to speak to the police.’
      • ‘She went on to say that when she spoke to the police she tried to help them by telling the truth.’
      • ‘We spoke to a real estate agent, who showed us a lovely cottage overlooking the bay.’
      • ‘He refused to speak to inquiry agents sent by his solicitors to obtain a proof of evidence and she was reduced to tape recording in conference.’
      • ‘Hepburn said it made no sense to use intermediaries to deal with advertising agencies, instead of speaking to them directly.’
      • ‘They said they wanted to speak to me and she said, ‘He doesn't want to speak to the police’.’
      • ‘The Parties may speak to me on the issue of costs, if necessary.’
      • ‘We so often try to think about what might be best for basic writers in our teaching and curricula without speaking to them directly and determining how they view their needs.’
      • ‘The man continued to speak to the police, all the while looking through the zoom lens of his video camera.’
      speak to, talk to, make conversation with, engage in conversation
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 Discuss or comment on formally:
      ‘the Church wants to speak to real issues’
      • ‘Stephens' comments speak to another critical issue regarding confidantes.’
      • ‘Everyone is funny and smart, and the speeches speak to real issues; this is a group of people who love comics.’
      • ‘I've never known a gay man before, so I cannot speak to those issues.’
      • ‘It's less about creating minimalist abstract objects that, by virtue of their existence, speak to formal concerns.’
      • ‘So I asked a friend of the film to speak to the issue and what came back, I thought, was worth printing.’
    3. 2.3 Appeal or relate to:
      ‘the story spoke to him directly’
      • ‘It has a regional appeal that speaks to Newfoundlanders but also to a heroic struggle with the harsh Canadian environment, much in the way that Nanook of the North did a decade earlier.’
      • ‘These cases, however, do not speak to the issue of when or why maternal custody is justified.’
      • ‘Their focus on customer requirements, collaborative work, and less formal products speaks to the future.’
      • ‘As important as this contribution is, however, it speaks only to the converted.’
      • ‘If you're between the ages of 32 and 48, and this story spoke to you, I very much want to hear from you.’
      • ‘Moreover, Courtney's ability to shift the shape and contour of her face so that it assumes the appearance of an eyeless African mask speaks to her very real spiritual endowment.’
      • ‘They never were quite real since they never spoke to my feelings.’
      • ‘Come to Arizona, a land defined by its wild beauty, its simple openness, its elemental, eternal appeal that speaks to the child in us all.’
      • ‘Participants were then asked to reconvene and discuss the issues that spoke to them or that they deemed essential to address.’
      • ‘Drawings were sequenced in the gallery according to an internal, formal logic; they spoke to one another like semaphores.’
  • 3(of behaviour, an object, etc.) serve as evidence for something:

    ‘everything in the house spoke of hard times and neglect’
    [with object] ‘his frame spoke tiredness’
    • ‘The fact that this campaign had to be initiated speaks of the sad state of misinformation current in North American society.’
    • ‘It turns out, this biographical information speaks more of Dowse's sense of humour than it does of his academic qualifications.’
    • ‘It was his evidence that he spoke as loudly in the operating room that day as he did in the witness box - which would have been a fairly loud voice for such a setting.’
    • ‘I merely need to soak it in, bathe in it, let it speak to me the way it has spoken to others.’
    • ‘Love's a plague again, that's for sure, but this time the sentiment is spoken with an auditor's clarity.’
    • ‘It speaks of the future, of possibly healing wounds, even of the conditions under which that could happen.’
    • ‘Our case speaks in terms of evidence of identification being excluded if it would be unfair or if it was undertaken unfairly to the appellant.’
    • ‘Door after door, each numbered rather than named, spoke of how many people were held here.’
    • ‘Throughout, though, there is a warmth and purity that speaks of hope rather than despair.’
    • ‘The evidence speaks frequently of the 10.01 block and that is the first item in the left-hand column at 529.’
    indicate, mean, suggest, show, denote, display, demonstrate, be evidence of, register, reflect, reveal, betray, evince, disclose, exhibit, manifest
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    1. 3.1archaic [with object and infinitive or adverbial] Show (someone or something) to be in a particular state or to possess a certain quality:
      ‘she had seen nothing that spoke him of immoral habits’
      • ‘Jane Austen's Darcy does not (I quote directly from Chapter 36 of Pride and Prejudice) have in his manner anything that spoke him of irreligious or immoral habits.’
      • ‘She had never seen any thing that betrayed him to be unprincipled or unjust, anything that spoke him of irreligious or immoral habits.’
  • 4(of a musical instrument or other object) make a sound when functioning:

    ‘the gun spoke again’
    ‘insufficient air circulates for the pipes to speak’
    • ‘The remarkable thing, though, is that both instruments speak with a distinctive voice that is recognisably the same.’
    • ‘Crashing chords pound out from the piano line while the clarinet speaks in a tonal, coolly cerebral mode.’
    • ‘Her ability to make full use of the space into which this splendid instrument speaks is pure delight.’
    • ‘The animal's head was visible on the road, and the gun spoke.’
    • ‘Five times in instantaneous succession, the heavy gun spoke, the crashing sound deafening all within the room.’
    • ‘It's silence in remembrance of a talented, haunted man, but he deserves a eulogy, and his guitar speaks better than anyone ever could.’
    • ‘Mozart raises the accompaniment to share some of that interest, so that the violin and the piano speak on relatively equal terms.’
    1. 4.1 (of a hound) bark.
      • ‘Every so often retrain the "Speak" command to keep this reinforcement.’
      • ‘Tell him to speak and then wait for him to speak.’

Phrases

  • not to speak of

    • Used in introducing a further factor to be considered:

      ‘the rent had to be paid, not to speak of school fees’
      • ‘The city, he stated, stood to benefit from the large sum that the War Department was prepared to spend on the conversion of the airport into a military field, not to speak of the new facility's annual payroll.’
      • ‘Although the appellant is a Punjabi, the Punjabi people are to be found all over India, not to speak of all over the world.’
      • ‘For the vast majority of free women, not to speak of slave women, the treasured elite concepts of seclusion and isolation which were the foundations of virginity were not possible.’
      • ‘The reception of this effervescence abroad varied from country to country, but no major culture in the West, not to speak of Japan, was altogether exempt from it.’
      • ‘Plainly, the existence of French Canada, and of Quebec as a province with a francophone majority, not to speak of a distinct historical lineage, introduced a persistent ambiguity into any concept of a Canadian nation-state.’
      • ‘The sidewalk festival, now in its 38th year, attracts 300 regional and national artists - not to speak of the 50,000 visitors.’
      • ‘In other words - and honestly - the children's writer does not have the kind of freedom, not to speak of license, which the writer for the grown up has.’
      • ‘Similar markets exist for paper writing and other tasks, not to speak of the large market in pre-written papers.’
      • ‘Of course, hockey remains deep within Indian hearts in these quadrennial sojourns, but the events leading up to the Games, not to speak of the record against top teams in recent months, do not inspire confidence.’
      • ‘Italy needs honest administration, decent public services and accountable government, not to speak of jobs for its unemployed, which the old order failed to provide.’
  • something speaks for itself

    • The implications of something are so clear that no supporting evidence is needed:

      ‘the figures speak for themselves’
      • ‘The irrefutable evidence of unprecedented horrors speaks for itself after more than half a century.’
      • ‘The evidence of the visitations speaks for itself.’
      • ‘Well, I'm waiting to hear what else the defense puts up, but right now, the evidence speaks for itself.’
      • ‘You take the reins in social situations, and your personality speaks for itself.’
      • ‘He was a very fair man, he was a kind gentleman - and his record speaks for itself.’
      • ‘I believe your work speaks for itself and needs no defending.’
      • ‘I think my performance at York over the last three years speaks for itself.’
      • ‘He's a guy who never gives up, who is always looking to improve and his record speaks for itself.’
      • ‘Often our city speaks for itself through its unique historic past, but we mustn't be complacent.’
      • ‘By any stretch of the imagination they have done us proud and their record speaks for itself.’
  • speak for oneself

    • Give one's own opinions:

      ‘I'm not speaking for me and Jack, I'm speaking for myself’
      • ‘Inside the quiet, orderly courtroom, facing the judge, Libby spoke for himself.’
      • ‘Maybe he doesn't speak for every man, but he speaks for himself and that's all you can do… all you should do when you set out to create anything.’
      • ‘I stare at the fat man, wondering who will interpret, when he speaks for himself.’
      • ‘This is particularly the case for individuals with learning disabilities who often have difficulties in speaking for themselves.’
      • ‘Well, speaking for myself, comrades, there I draw the line. Not one step.’
      • ‘And she spoke for herself, not for anyone else.’
      • ‘‘They were speaking for themselves,’ Duboff commented.’
      • ‘Precisely because academics are free to express their own views, people know that a professor speaks for himself, and not necessarily for the university.’
      • ‘They spoke for themselves and their comrades, those who had died as well as those who lay helpless in veterans' hospitals, forgotten by the prating politicians who publicly claimed to exalt them.’
      • ‘I think a lot of us who did that - I certainly am speaking for myself - do not - I'm not proud of that.’
  • speak for yourself

    • [in imperative]Used to tell someone that an opinion they have expressed is not shared by oneself:

      ‘‘This is such a boring place.’ ‘Speak for yourself—I like it.’’
      • ‘Speak for yourself but don't speak for me.’
      • ‘Speak for yourself, but my aromatherapy mist is working wonders.’
  • speak in tongues

    • Speak in an unknown language during religious worship, regarded as one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2).

      • ‘Fuelled by American-style revivalism, the church emphasized radical gospel practices - such as speaking in tongues - that whipped worshippers into a frenzy.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, Pastor Lake egged him on, breaking out into pointed applause and speaking in tongues.’
      • ‘This conveys power to practise the gifts of the Spirit: speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing, exorcism.’
      • ‘Goff eventually received the Pentecostal experience and spoke in tongues along with other ministers in the conference.’
      • ‘Pentecostals believe that every child of God should be his own minister, imbued directly with the Holy Spirit and the gift of speaking in tongues.’
      • ‘Wearing Middle Eastern costume he spoke in tongues for an hour, and was accused by a youth in jeans and bomber jacket of ridiculing Arab culture.’
      • ‘Glossolalia was a central part of Parham's message and one of his students, Agnes Ozman, spoke in tongues on 1 January 1901.’
      • ‘But he was instead an apostle, an ad hoc theologian, a proclaimer, a charismatic who saw visions and spoke in tongues - and a religious genius.’
      • ‘Some ten million Americans call themselves Pentecostals of one kind or another, and the faith is best known for promoting the practice of speaking in tongues.’
      • ‘The symposium after the meal was the time for teaching and conversation, for the singing of hymns, for the contributions of those who prophesied or spoke in tongues.’
  • speak one's mind

    • Express one's opinions frankly:

      ‘he is a tough politician who speaks his mind in a blunt way’
      • ‘Her mother had always taught her to speak her mind, have solid opinions, and never lose her head.’
      • ‘After some forced chit-chat about my flight and hotel, she squinted in that discomfiting way that people preparing to speak their minds do.’
      • ‘Many who spoke their mind out on the subject live in hostels.’
      • ‘They have wild opinions and they speak their mind.’
      • ‘And I don't mind speaking my mind because I'm in a position to.’
      • ‘‘I spoke my mind to George, a few too many times,’ he recalls.’
      • ‘On the other hand people are free to speak their minds and to demonstrate.’
      • ‘He spoke his mind after careful consideration; she blurted out her opinion.’
      • ‘And it makes me feel proud that I've actually inspired these people to speak their minds.’
      • ‘She is going to create avenues for people to speak their minds.’
      speak publicly, speak openly, speak boldly, speak frankly, speak one's mind, sound off, spout off, go on, stand up and be counted
      View synonyms
  • speak volumes

    • (of a gesture, circumstance, etc.) convey a great deal without using words:

      ‘a look that spoke volumes’
      ‘his record speaks volumes for his determination’
      • ‘It was not the bond of a family, but the bond of those who knew each other so well that they could speak volumes without words.’
      • ‘‘Don't bring my brother into this,’ Micah's tone was cold and spoke volumes more than the words themselves.’
      • ‘Kylara needed no words; her sad teal eyes spoke volumes.’
      • ‘His expression spoke volumes his words could not.’
      • ‘She'd get into the habit of rooting around in charity shops (thrift-stores in America) for an outfit that spoke volumes in individuality and style.’
      • ‘The look spoke volumes, volumes Zack couldn't grasp.’
      • ‘Who needs fancy words when an effortless turn of inflection can speak volumes?’
      • ‘Actions speak louder than words, and inaction speaks volumes.’
      • ‘Buffy stood up and walked toward Spike, and I could see how effortlessly her every gesture spoke volumes to him.’
      • ‘Many emotions were playing across Carly's expressive face, speaking volumes without saying a word.’
  • speak well (or ill) of

    • Praise (or criticize):

      ‘the patients speak well of their doctors’
      • ‘However, that does not reduce her stature as a serious presidential candidate and speaks well of her determination to contest, in spite of odds being against her.’
      • ‘They are really great people who spoke well of Macalester.’
      • ‘He spoke well of Scotland and Scottish football.’
      • ‘Although you spoke well of Smith's collection of essays, you also said that you were unfamiliar with his science fiction works.’
      • ‘It was a speech that spoke well of multilateral action, postulating that there can and will be action.’
      • ‘But the problem is that one side of this equation was always ignored in the effort to stamp out prejudice, and the side ignored was always the side that spoke well of the teller.’
      • ‘While educated Indians are inclined to think or at least speak well of the village, they do not show much inclination for the company of villagers.’
      • ‘Would you hire a bricklayer because he spoke well of his craft; or would you check whether his walls stood up?’
      • ‘After leaving school with good GCSEs he said she worked as a mobile hairdresser and was a woman that people spoke well of.’
      • ‘You always spoke well of him, and I remember you were always rising to his defence.’
  • —— to speak of

    • [with negative]Used to indicate that there is so little of something that it is hardly worth mentioning:

      ‘I've no capital—well, none to speak of’
      • ‘That one destroyer is the only one of them who's done any damage to speak of.’
      • ‘This movie doesn't have much of a plot to speak of - it mainly consists of a several skits tied together.’
      • ‘The book doesn't actually have any conflict to speak of, as a friend of mine pointed out as we were leaving.’
      • ‘The sound is the original mono and is reproduced clearly with no noticeable hiss or noise to speak of.’
      • ‘Whether inside or out, everyone would be able to see since there was no front and back stage to speak of, but a small circle of earth.’
      • ‘There are no extras to speak of apart from a dirty and grainy teaser trailer.’
      • ‘They hadn't done anything to his hair, of which there wasn't much to speak of.’
      • ‘A few trailers are included on the film, but there are no major extras to speak of, which is a shame.’
      • ‘One of the problems's there's hardly a music industry to speak of in Ukraine - at least not a legal one.’
      • ‘Obviously Waterloo lacks perspective on drinking laws and apparently has no real crime to speak of.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • speak out (or up)

    • Express one's opinions frankly and publicly:

      ‘the government will be forthright in speaking out against human rights abuses’
      • ‘The highly publicized dispute led numerous arts professionals to speak out on behalf of the director.’
      • ‘The public spoke out, saying we don't need arms; we are not at war, and we are unlikely ever to be.’
      • ‘The vast majority of artists, mind you, don't speak out publicly at all.’
      • ‘It shocked me to realize that he had decided to speak out on my behalf.’
      • ‘As first lady, did you ever speak out publicly about policy issues specific to gays and lesbians?’
      • ‘I just don't know what companies are doing because they're not willing to speak out publicly.’
      • ‘She spoke up very well for herself, just like a doctor's wife should.’
      • ‘I think people need to be able to speak out freely on public issues.’
      • ‘Freedom of speech is a fact, although by no means do individuals yet speak out freely at public meetings.’
      • ‘He spoke out publicly during colonialism and in post-colonial politics against what he considered to be injustices.’
      • ‘A few of my colleagues do speak out on public issues, others don't.’
      speak publicly, speak openly, speak boldly, speak frankly, speak one's mind, sound off, spout off, go on, stand up and be counted
      View synonyms
  • speak up

    • Speak more loudly:

      ‘We can't hear you. Speak up!’
      • ‘The man sitting behind them leaned over and said: ‘Do you mind speaking up a bit?’’
      • ‘Can you speak up? I can't hear you!’
      • ‘Speak up? What a notion, coming as I did from the land of "Sit down, Francine" and "Be quiet, Francine".’
      • ‘At one point the jury had to send a note to the judge to ask him to speak up, and he was the closest person to it.’
      speak loudly, speak more loudly, speak out, speak clearly, raise one's voice, shout, yell, bellow, call at the top of one's voice
      holler
      View synonyms
  • speak up for

    • Speak in support of:

      ‘there was no independent body to speak up for press freedoms’
      • ‘To speak up for or defend animals who cannot defend themselves against abuse is not a crime, nor should it ever be one.’
      • ‘She was always a person who would speak up for what was right, even if feathers got ruffled.’
      • ‘Jack Locke is a person who speaks up for what he believes in.’
      • ‘We were worried the decision was made in advance but a couple of the councillors spoke up for us.’
      • ‘What do we have to fear from speaking up for what we believe in?’
      • ‘Orwell spoke up for what he saw as common human decencies - but these decencies were politically marginal, and thus in a sense not common at all.’
      • ‘What small businesses need is a body that speaks up for their interests, freeing them to get on with the important job of widget fabrication and processing.’
      • ‘But that doesn't mean you can't speak up for what you want.’
      • ‘But I'm speaking up for all the other women he has betrayed with his so-called sexual bravado.’
      • ‘The older is more independent minded and can speak up for herself.’
      support, give one's support to, take the side of, side with, be on the side of, stand by, stand up for, take someone's part, be supportive of, be loyal to, defend, come to the defence of, champion, speak up for, fight for
      View synonyms

Origin

Old English sprecan, later specan, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch spreken and German sprechen.

Pronunciation:

speak

/spiːk/