Definition of speed in English:

speed

noun

  • 1mass noun The rate at which someone or something moves or operates or is able to move or operate.

    ‘we turned on to the runway and began to gather speed’
    ‘an engine running at full speed’
    count noun ‘the car has a top speed of 147 mph’
    • ‘The car, which runs on motorcycle tyres, can still manage 40 miles to the gallon, although its top speed is only 45 mph.’
    • ‘But even the extra weight failed to dent the 330 horsepower output, providing a top speed of 144 mph.’
    • ‘That's enough to catapult it to 60 mph in 10.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 113 mph.’
    • ‘Able to reach speeds of 60 mph for a short time, it is the second-fastest land animal on earth; only the cheetah is faster.’
    • ‘It also has mirrors under the bonnet to give a double effect to the engine and reaches top speeds of 145 mph.’
    • ‘With a top speed of around 70 mph, Karen's boat was the first to go out and took about 15 minutes to negotiate the dock's L-shaped course.’
    • ‘Officers said the top speed was 146 mph - a record in the region.’
    • ‘Its operationally loaded top speed is rated around 38 nautical miles per hour.’
    • ‘Hitting a top speed of only 35 mph - half that of today's fire engines - the vehicles have no radio, but are likely to have a police escort.’
    • ‘Mark has reached a top speed of 325 mph before he deploys a parachute at 3,000 ft above the ground.’
    • ‘It does a reasonably good job of this, especially when you consider that there is a broad range of craft in the game, most of which differ in turn rates and top speeds.’
    • ‘It has more room for paramedics to work and has a top speed of 155 mph.’
    • ‘Everyone began moving at their top speed out of the dungeon and through the halls.’
    • ‘The plane, with a top speed of just 30 mph crashed at least once in trials but flew on other occasions.’
    • ‘Now the car, with a top speed of 200 mph, is for sale as the main asset of the firm, which went into liquidation.’
    • ‘Maria peaked late on Monday as a Category 3 hurricane with top wind speeds at 115 mph.’
    • ‘And the 67 year old bachelor told a court that he certainly hadn't been stopped for speeding, because the vehicle had a top speed of just 15 mph.’
    • ‘‘I am well pleased with that,’ said Weir, who hit a top speed of 21 mph in the last 100m.’
    • ‘This results in a top speed of 104 mph and the dash from 0-62 is covered in 11.08 seconds.’
    • ‘It's said that London traffic moves at an average speed of 11 mph, but pedestrian traffic can't be far behind.’
    rate, pace, tempo, momentum
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Rapidity of movement or action.
      ‘the accident was due to excessive speed’
      • ‘He gave a low chuckle before, in a sudden movement and with surprising speed, he kicked me across the face.’
      • ‘PC Clark said excessive speed and the fact he was two-and-a-half times over the drink-drive limit were the primary factors behind the smash.’
      • ‘The accident happened due to excessive speed, contributed to by the condition of the near side rear tyre.’
      • ‘Loss of blood had sapped his movements of speed, but he still felt refreshed.’
      • ‘We have been told by the police it would appear the vehicle was being driven at excessive speed.’
      • ‘Your muscle fibres will be more receptive to growth and reaction time will increase, thus increasing speed and movement.’
      • ‘In Florence he met the Italian Futurists, yet, unlike them, he was less interested in speed and movement than in the effects of colour and light in his work.’
      • ‘Knowing how and when to release these joints is critical to facility, ease of movement and speed.’
      • ‘He said the ‘unfortunate’ accident was due to excessive speed and the torrential rain.’
      • ‘It seems the children quickly appreciated their own limitations and adapted their speed and movements to their abilities.’
      • ‘Five of these collisions were caused by alcohol or drugs resulting in six deaths and two collisions were caused by excessive speed resulting in two deaths.’
      • ‘He emphasised that there was still much work to be done in reducing speeds even further and in changing attitudes towards excessive and inappropriate speed.’
      • ‘‘The cause of this collision is due to excessive speed,’ PC Cox said.’
      • ‘A double-page album conveys all the panic, speed, ferocity, movement and verve of the hunt.’
      • ‘His movements returned to normal speed, and he dashed toward Abaddon.’
      • ‘I'm learning speed and explosive movements, and in the past six months, I've been doing yoga for flexibility.’
      • ‘The web implants were fairly simple to master, and significantly increased speed of movement underwater.’
      • ‘It was not caused by the weight of concrete in the wagons, the bridge structure, vandalism on the line, or excessive train speed.’
      • ‘She pointed out that excessive speed, improper overtaking and unexpected events were huge contributory factors.’
      • ‘At times in the first half the All Ireland champions' movement and speed of execution was awesome and Kildare did well to just hang in there.’
      rapidity, swiftness, speediness, alacrity, quickness, fastness, celerity, velocity, dispatch, promptness, immediacy, expeditiousness, expedition, briskness, sharpness
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 The rate at which something happens or is done.
      ‘they were bemused by the speed of events’
      ‘the course is delivered on CDROM so students can progress at their own speed’
      • ‘Mansfield Park has seen such an exodus of players during the summer that the turnstiles must have been rotating at the speed of a carnival ride.’
      • ‘Everyone goes about doing this at his or her own speed.’
      • ‘The second tactic is rather more controversial - the use of part numbers performance ratings to suggest a higher clock speed than is actually the case.’
      • ‘Paraffin will get you in the ballpark, but low fluoro will get you more speed.’
      • ‘Survivors of Australia's bushfires told over the weekend of their mounting surprise, and then panic, at the sheer scale and speed of the unfolding disaster.’
      • ‘Weight deals specifically with speed and how much of a burden the character is on their craft, which can affect its speed.’
      • ‘Our results also suggest that clonal interference may not have a large effect on the speed of adaptation.’
      • ‘This may impact the overall speed of your local LAN.’
      • ‘The speed with which the 76-year-old tycoon has moved has staggered most observers.’
      • ‘Qualifying and practice speeds show that Dodge has found something that gives the Intrepids an edge.’
      • ‘As your speed rises the engine joins in, but so seamlessly that you will struggle to identify the moment it happens.’
      • ‘Space and time both turn out to be relative, measurements of length and intervals of time turn out to depend on the relative speeds of the objects in question.’
      • ‘But high prices in major cities are curbing the speed of the movement of workers.’
      • ‘At the sort of speed you should have been travelling this collision would have been wholly avoidable.’
      • ‘It may also surprise you to learn that the closing speed at which aircraft collide is typically relatively slow.’
      • ‘Regulate the speed, remembering that the normal speed for projection is 16 pictures per second.’
      • ‘I just want to bring you up to speed.’
      • ‘Starting this season Olga and I work twice a week on stroking exercises, which has really helped the speed in my programs and my overall ice coverage.’
      • ‘Up until QuantiSpeed was introduced, many users were accustomed to rating the speed of a computer by its raw MHz number.’
      • ‘The speed with which Bush moved to impose this ban on aid is also significant.’
  • 2Each of the possible gear ratios of a bicycle.

    gear ratio
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1US dated Each of the possible gear ratios of a motor vehicle.
      • ‘The tractors feature sliding gear transmission with eight forward and two reverse speeds.’
      • ‘Even if linked to a typically American automatic gearbox of only four speeds, it has sprightly performance.’
      • ‘The most nimble of all Jeeps, it comes with front and rear locking axles, giant tires, and extra low gear speeds.’
      • ‘The car, named for the unique shape of its footboard, had a single cylinder four horse power engine, two forward speeds and a reverse gear.’
  • 3The light-gathering power or f-number of a camera lens.

    • ‘I'm not sure I can give you the correct information on the lens speed.’
    • ‘Lens speed indicates how bright the image in the viewfinder will be.’
    1. 3.1 The duration of a photographic exposure.
      • ‘This will provide an extra stop of exposure; remember to set it back to the correct speed once the fog or mist has burned off.’
      • ‘As camera speeds became quicker, so the image was transformed.’
      • ‘Scott also plays with lenses, camera speed and some excellent special effects to heighten the impact of the harrowing fight scenes.’
    2. 3.2 The sensitivity of photographic film to light.
      • ‘The slower the film speed, the finer the grain and the intensity of the colours will be better.’
      • ‘Shutter speeds, aperture, choice of film speed, focus, focal length… you get what I mean.’
      • ‘Taking into account the speed of the film, it then sets the camera's controls for the optimum exposure.’
      • ‘The basic exposure is F16 and the shutter speed would be the closest to the film speed that you are using.’
      • ‘Films also vary according to their ISO number or film speed: their sensitivity to light.’
      • ‘He discusses camera types, lenses, focal length, flash, light, digital photographs, and film types and speeds.’
      • ‘The days of having to carry bulk film around or switch between different film types and speeds is now a distant memory for those who have made the technology leap.’
      • ‘Once you have adjusted the film speed to the number of exposures that you want to use, then all you have to do is just meter and shoot the scene.’
  • 4informal mass noun An amphetamine drug, especially methamphetamine.

    • ‘What about the other evidence about him in the toilet pacing backwards and forwards, with expletives and asking everyone who came in for a line of drugs - speed?’
    • ‘Whittaker and Morrison carried out the killings after stealing a small amount of amphetamine sulphate, also known as speed, from the house.’
    • ‘This person had a number of deals of amphetamine, known as speed.’
    • ‘The drugs involved included cannabis, ecstasy and speed.’
    • ‘Another commonly abused amphetamine is methylamphetamine, also known as speed, ice, crank and crystal meth.’
    • ‘In the house also were a number of hash pipes, as well as a quantity of speed and LSD.’
    • ‘You don't want to develop any addictions to cocaine or speed.’
    • ‘He was consuming drugs on a daily basis, including LSD, peyote, marijuana, and speed.’
    • ‘What if she was like most 17-year-olds and had experimented with marijuana or speed or ecstasy?’
    • ‘He was using cannabis, LSD, speed and magic mushrooms on a regular basis.’
    • ‘Drugs such as speed and cocaine are often mixed together to make a lethal concoction that can destroy lives.’
    • ‘Aimed at drug users and their families, the film centres on former drug addicts who were addicted to heroin cocaine, speed and ecstasy.’
    • ‘The most common drug used was cannabis, followed by ecstasy, acid, magic mushrooms, speed and cocaine.’
    • ‘Let's move now to recreational drugs, party ones like ecstasy and speed.’
    • ‘George himself had previously used drugs, primarily speed, and had at one time operated a methamphetamine laboratory.’
    • ‘If, however, you have a normal functioning brain, you will feel like you are on speed (amphetamines).’
    • ‘There were times when he would spend all of his money on speed or marijuana and get so high his mind would blur and all he could think about was having a another dosage.’
    • ‘They will be sent for forensic testing for ecstasy, speed and cannabis.’
    • ‘Banning parties and blockading raves will not stop a movement, nor will it stop the use of ecstasy, cocaine, speed, heroin and pot for that matter.’
    • ‘Information about cocaine, LSD, ecstasy and speed was handed out, as well as tips for keeping clubbers safe.’
  • 5archaic mass noun Success; prosperity.

    ‘wish me good speed’

verb

  • 1no object, with adverbial of direction Move quickly.

    ‘I got into the car and home we sped’
    • ‘I stepped out of the truck and his tires screeched as he quickly sped off.’
    • ‘Nick quickly sped backwards, looking at the two shadows in front of him.’
    • ‘If our troops can speed quickly through Iraq and deal with this monster it stands to reason that his own people must applaud our efforts.’
    • ‘They then quickly sped off to the north to get out of the Ettin Hills.’
    • ‘They quickly sped ahead to the front of the group, going extremely fast and swerving near mailboxes and cars.’
    • ‘Banking quickly, Jonathan sped away with Kyle in hot pursuit.’
    • ‘I rambled on to myself and quickly sped out of the living room that threatened to suffocate me.’
    • ‘I glanced towards the car, trying to see who the driver was, but they sped off too quickly.’
    • ‘He chuckled as he sped quickly away after yelling that he would meet her at the firearms shop in east LA.’
    • ‘Then it sped out and moved around the room, here and there, leaving a zigzag of smoke behind.’
    • ‘I quickly pushed myself and sped to catch up to her, but there were too many people and I had to walk.’
    • ‘We quickly sped away from Fremont and into industrial no man's land.’
    • ‘Darcy watched sadly as Jeremy backed out quickly and sped down the road.’
    • ‘He sped home and quickly, hardly able to see the road in his fury.’
    • ‘She screamed, throwing her groceries in the air, and the four of us burst into laughter as Adam quickly sped out of the parking lot.’
    • ‘Taking no time to evaluate her own injuries, Zoe quickly sped down the road and took a wide turn down another street.’
    • ‘The battle had been over so quickly because he had sped towards Arthur like an arrow from a bow, and it had been all she could do to keep up with him!’
    • ‘Then she quickly got dressed and sped out the door when she realized she was going to be late for her appointments.’
    • ‘The elevator quickly sped off towards the main cargo area of the starship.’
    • ‘The girl sped quickly away, obviously an old pro as a bike rider.’
    hurry, race, run, sprint, dash, bolt, dart, rush, hasten, hurtle, career, streak, shoot, whizz, zoom, go like lightning, go hell for leather, spank along, bowl along, rattle along, whirl, whoosh, buzz, swoop, flash, blast, charge, stampede, gallop, sweep, hare, fly, wing, scurry, scud, scutter, scramble
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1past and past participle speededno object (of a motorist or vehicle) travel at a speed that is greater than the legal limit.
      ‘the car that crashed was speeding’
      • ‘I drove back to town quickly, but not speeding, and arrived at Hunter's family's new home, after he gave me directions.’
      • ‘Gary jumped into the car and Louise threw herself in and they speeded across the town to the restaurant.’
      • ‘He speeded to Winona's house and frantically knocked on the door and rang the bell.’
      • ‘As Chad speeded to his work on the opposite side of town, he went over the last few minutes again in his head.’
      • ‘Before Rebecca could say another word Cameron pulled her in and speeded down the road.’
      • ‘Once in the town she speeded through Stars Road, then through Main Street.’
      • ‘Robert speeded over to the hospital that Clara was just at and practically yelled at the nurses.’
      • ‘She practically speeded to Crystal's house, she had to vent her anger through someone.’
      • ‘Her car, the emerald Audi compact, speeded down the street and disappeared.’
      • ‘They speeded out of Jake's neighborhood and on to the road that went into town.’
      • ‘Louis Aguiar gave evidence at his trial admitting to accelerating quickly and speeding between 55 and 60 kph.’
      • ‘This includes drivers who have speeded more than once and received separate notifications.’
      drive too fast, exceed the speed limit, break the speed limit
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2past and past participle speeded Move or work more quickly.
      ‘you force yourself to speed up because you don't want to keep others waiting’
      • ‘Then they sped up and Darren was forced to walk faster until he was eventually jogging.’
      • ‘The tape cut off as the limo sped up and accelerated below a triple underpass.’
      • ‘He's blurry through my tears, and then the train speeds up and takes him away.’
      • ‘Inching along head-lamp deep, the traffic moves again, speeding up when we reach the dry roads of the South Coast.’
      • ‘The heart rate speeds up in order to quickly provide the extra oxygen and nutrients your body will need.’
      • ‘I sped up and rattled the door handle quickly up and down, cursing it for not opening for me.’
      • ‘Her heart seemed to stop for a second, but it quickly sped up, its beat pounding away in her ears.’
      • ‘He felt his stomach drop to his feet and his heart sped up, this could not be happening!’
      • ‘I called quickly in return, speeding up to follow him.’
      • ‘I slowed the car down momentarily and sped up quickly after passing another light.’
      hurry up, accelerate, move faster, go faster, drive faster, get a move on, put a spurt on, open it up, increase speed, pick up speed, gather speed
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3past and past participle speededwith object Cause to move or happen more quickly.
      ‘they sought to speed up decision-making’
      • ‘It is not just about productivity, but predictability, speeding things up, making things flow smoothly.’
      • ‘Once again, sorry if I sped things up too quickly, but I can't change my desire to get this story finished.’
      • ‘The technology is a key part of speeding things up.’
      • ‘For months, they have argued they wanted to speed it up, so this woman has this trial very quickly.’
      • ‘Technology speeds things up, but it's consistent with what corporations and governments have been doing.’
      • ‘It speeds things up for suspects, can eliminate them more quickly if they are innocent, and means witnesses are not in close proximity to the suspects as they can be under the old system.’
      • ‘Being already in the system speeds things up and simplifies the operation.’
      • ‘There have been calls from the opposition to bring in the army to speed things up and so on.’
      • ‘We're most grateful for what has been done, but if there's any chance of speeding things up that would be great.’
      • ‘During World War II, considerable industrial production moved to the West Coast and after the war urbanization was sped up by housing subsidies and government investment in city infrastructure.’
      hasten, expedite, speed up, hurry up, accelerate, step up, advance, further, forward, promote, boost, give a boost to, stimulate, aid, assist, help along, facilitate
      View synonyms
  • 2archaic with object Make prosperous or successful.

    ‘may God speed you’
    • ‘God speed you to your job in Brussels.’
  • 3informal no object Take or be under the influence of an amphetamine drug.

    ‘more kids than ever are speeding, tripping, and getting stoned’

Phrases

  • at speed

    • Quickly.

      ‘a car flashed past them at speed’
      • ‘He then snatched the keys from her hand and the two drove off at speed, leaving her frightened in the street.’
      • ‘Eyewitnesses said they drove off at speed in the direction of Newmarket.’
      • ‘The Shannon airport police van approaches at speed, emergency lights flashing.’
      • ‘The driver, who was also wearing a balaclava, drove away at speed.’
      • ‘And it was their ability to turn defence into attack at speed that was the real difference.’
      • ‘A vehicle was heard leaving the lower village at speed, heading up towards the Church, out of Dunmore East.’
      • ‘Other eye-witnesses revealed the motorcyclist was driving at speed and overtaking other vehicles in drizzle.’
      • ‘Teenagers use the parking area as a late night hang-out, driving around at speed and playing loud music.’
      • ‘It is believed that the thieves took his keys in the struggle and then began driving around in circles at speed.’
      • ‘However, when you have 14 or 15 stone moving around at speed and hitting you, it's going to take its toll.’
      rapidly, swiftly, quickly, fast, post-haste, at speed, at full speed, at the speed of light, at full tilt, as fast as one's legs can carry one, at a gallop
      View synonyms
  • pick up (or get up) speed

    • (of a vehicle) go faster; accelerate.

      ‘once out of the village, they picked up speed’
      figurative ‘the debate has picked up steam recently’
  • up to speed

    • 1Operating at full speed or at an expected rate or level.

      ‘a noise like a jet engine coming up to speed’
      ‘the manager is just getting up to speed’
      • ‘It could be argued that we weren't giving the coolers enough time to get fully up to speed.’
      • ‘I only had three hours of tech rehearsal, and that's usually a full load getting the sound and light cues up to speed for one show, much less four.’
    • 2Fully informed or up to date.

      ‘his secretary's up to speed on IT’
      • ‘Bring us up to speed on the investigation as to where we are now.’
      • ‘This is most common at large companies that don't want to spend the time to get a newcomer up to speed with the operations of a large public company only to then rehire again.’
      • ‘A class description or a short chat with your instructor should bring you up to speed.’
      • ‘If you are self-employed you should get advice from a good professional if you are not up to speed on pension products and their performance.’
      • ‘Now pilots or crew chiefs moving to another aircraft type will be able to quickly get up to speed on any differences in how the new aircraft operates in a combat zone.’
      • ‘She'll bring us up to speed on the third incident.’
      • ‘When a firm takes on a new graduate it expects him or her to be up to speed with the latest theories and technologies.’
      • ‘He and his team now spend time educating people and bringing the company up to speed on grid-computing procedures.’
      • ‘We'll keep you fully up to speed on what's happening.’
      • ‘Just in case you don't know what I'm talking about I'll try and bring you up to speed.’
      knowledgeable, enlightened, illuminated, literate, well informed, well educated, educated, schooled, instructed
      familiarize, make conversant, acquaint, get up to date, keep up to date
      View synonyms

Origin

Old English spēd (noun), spēdan (verb), from the Germanic base of Old English spōwan ‘prosper, succeed’, a sense reflected in early usage.

Pronunciation

speed

/spiːd/