Definition of speak in English:



  • 1Say something in order to convey information, an opinion, or a feeling.

    ‘in his agitation he was unable to speak’
    ‘she refused to speak about the incident’
    • ‘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, the girl could only move her mouth to call for her mother's help before falling to the ground unconscious.’
    • ‘She sighed and put her hand to her mouth, almost unable to speak anymore.’
    • ‘Israel was quiet, as if digesting that bit of information and then he spoke, harshly and firmly.’
    • ‘During their gigs, the six-some regularly distributes pamphlets of information and speaks on stage about causes they feel strongly about.’
    • ‘The prince surveyed the three, trying to speak but unable to find his voice.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He speaks with conviction and conveys emotion well.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘John stands, open mouthed at the revelation and is left unable to speak.’
    • ‘The tube was still in his mouth, making him unable to speak.’
    • ‘He breathed hard through his mouth, almost unable to speak.’
    • ‘She opened her mouth as if to speak, but seemed unable to get the words out.’
    • ‘I open my mouth to speak and Mum raises a hand, to shut me up.’
    • ‘Corman always gives good information whenever he speaks, and even if he talks less than usual, it's worth a listen.’
    • ‘I was unable to speak, and I didn't trust my voice either.’
    talk, say, say anything, say something
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    1. 1.1Have a conversation.
      ‘I wish to speak privately with you’
      ‘I'll speak to him if he calls’
      • ‘They speak to readers and other bloggers who speak back, through e-mails, comments or on blogs of their own.’
      • ‘Have you ever heard from them or spoken to them or had any contact at all?’
      • ‘It was her decision to go and speak to people she hadn't spoken to in years, not his.’
      • ‘How odd is it, that writing seems more real to me than speaking to you in 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.’
      • ‘Every other movie I've done, I speak, converse, and tell anecdotes and have fun with the press.’
      • ‘After I had spoken to all of them, there was still one person who I felt as though I still needed to speak to.’
      • ‘These are all the people who normally never get to speak to film-makers about these issues.’
      • ‘Even before the incident, the emperor had spoken informally with associates of Cavour about an eventual alliance with Piedmont against Austria.’
      • ‘Oh how I wish now that I had spoken to you, instead of waiting for you to speak to me.’
      • ‘Carl watched Emma and Michael intently as they spoke, following the conversation, looking from face to face.’
      • ‘Maybe I would have never spoken to you, but that's because you don't speak to anyone.’
      • ‘No one would have to speak to her and she would not have to speak back.’
      • ‘Stephen has never addressed her in conversation, never spoken to her.’
      • ‘Liam smiled, ‘After speaking with my family I was persuaded to speak to you both about arrangements.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But I only learned the full story when I spoke to a curator at the local museum.’
      • ‘I managed to make her laugh even though I barely talked, but for once I was actually speaking to someone like a real person.’
      • ‘I mean, if she had this information and she spoke with the police way back, why didn't she dish it out then?’
      • ‘Kira and the enemy were now in their own conversation, speaking in their own strange language.’
      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, speech, etc.)
      ‘patients copy words spoken by the therapist’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘I love you’ her voice trembled as she spoke the three little words he had been dying to hear.’
      • ‘But not a word had been spoken to her about such a marriage yet.’
      • ‘As Rhoen spoke those words a female voice rang out behind him.’
      • ‘Before she could speak to whoever had decided to visit her she heard… no, felt a word spoken and something within the door unraveled.’
      • ‘Before another word can be spoken, everything around him explodes.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Times change, priorities change, but as Faust speaks these words his real message is clear.’
      • ‘It has not created a polarized choice between spoken and printed information.’
      • ‘They sat there for a few moments, no one saying anything, but no words needing to be spoken.’
      • ‘Many students felt that parents shouldn't say this to their children; others stated that their own parents had spoken those very words.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The greatest laughs come when we realise the full banality of virtual conversations, when spoken out loud.’
      • ‘There was a break in the conversation, and I spoke what I was thinking.’
      • ‘A spell usually consisted of two parts: the words to be spoken and a description of the actions to be taken.’
      • ‘There were no conversations spoken, and none were needed: talk just sounded hollow and pointless in the big scheme of things.’
      • ‘His mouth opened but before a word could be spoken I walked away.’
      • ‘As it hovered menacingly, it spoke the now familiar words in its screeching voice.’
      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’
      • ‘She claimed to have graduated from Vassar College, to be able to speak four languages and to have attended the Sorbonne in Paris.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Among Ghanaian Americans, more than 100 languages and dialects are spoken.’
      • ‘They have to be able to speak the languages of the scientist and the fishing industry, the tourist operator and the recreational sailor.’
      • ‘Over sixty local languages and dialects are spoken, the most widely used of which are Kikongo, Sangha, and Bateke.’
      • ‘The Philippines lacks a common language and about eighty languages and dialects are spoken in the islands.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the ethnically diverse town, several dialects were spoken, and the language of the Husserl home probably was Yiddish.’
      • ‘If you want to speak to us (and we do comprise the vast majority of society) then speak in a language that we understand.’
      • ‘Minority groups speak Arabic as well as their own languages at home, and English is widely spoken as a second language.’
      • ‘Although he is able to speak some French, and presumably the receptionist is able to speak some English, neither accommodates to the other.’
      • ‘Do you know which ones are able to speak the language you know?’
      • ‘English is spoken as the primary language at home by 3 percent of the population.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They wanted their kids to be able to speak the language I'm speaking now.’
      • ‘Armenians everywhere think that being able to speak the language is an important part of being Armenian.’
      • ‘Viewers have not always been able to speak this language, certainly not consciously, but it hasn't stopped us trying.’
      • ‘The dream of many Oneidas is that one day most members will be able to speak the language fluently.’
      • ‘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.’
    4. 1.4Make a speech before an audience, or make a contribution to a debate.
      ‘twenty thousand people attended to hear him speak’
      • ‘He travelled to hear his hero speak and later sailed with him in Narragansett Bay.’
      • ‘And in hearing her speak, I think she comes off very differently.’
      • ‘But the actress has always refused to speak on the issue.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And as a priest, he's uniquely positioned to speak on the issue.’
      • ‘Forensically speaking, that information is golden.’
      • ‘I also heard him speak at a lecture, which I found inspirational.’
      • ‘I suppose I am in a somewhat unique position to speak about the ‘new’ economy for two reasons.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A long time ago, when I heard him speak, he said, set yourselves apart from this corrupt generation, be saints.’
      • ‘In 1983, I heard him speak in Washington, D.C., and he addressed this very issue.’
      • ‘They also gain a little confidence in public speaking through their oral reports to the class.’
      • ‘In a race for the Ohio Supreme Court, one candidate spoke freely about his views and the other filled his war chest.’
      • ‘He spoke in the early afternoon and claimed in his evidence that he left soon afterwards.’
      • ‘I do not, however, feel authorized to speak from any other position than that constructed for me by my race, class, and sexual identity.’
      • ‘During his long speech, he finally speaks about the silence in which he has brought up his beloved son.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Camby speaks from a position of hegemonic ideology.’
      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
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    5. 1.5Express the views or position of (another person or group)
      ‘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.’
      • ‘It would also place a larger tax burden on all workers, including the ones she claims to be speaking for.’
      • ‘And you know, the priest is a symbol of one who speaks for God.’
      • ‘In Alexandrian courtrooms a defendant was permitted to speak for a certain regulated time.’
      • ‘In this country, the Constitution is sovereign, and the Supreme Court speaks for the Constitution.’
      • ‘Getting jobs is based on your reputation; your work and how you work with people speaks for you.’
      • ‘We begin in Tallahassee with Craig Waters, he is director of public information for the Florida Supreme Court, he speaks for the court.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It also implies a critique of any one party, sect or voice that would claim to speak for all or the many.’
      • ‘But I voted for it, and actually went to the floor of the Senate and spoke for it.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And she does have a right to speak, but not to claim she's speaking for others in these roles.’
      • ‘Flandin spoke for the majority of conservatives when he opposed it.’
      • ‘The president speaks for all the people of this country.’
      • ‘Daniel speaks for all those who believe they are what their history has made them.’
      • ‘First, the Court was fractured, producing no single opinion that spoke for a majority of the Justices.’
      • ‘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.’
      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
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    6. 1.6Convey one's views or position indirectly.
      ‘speaking through his attorney, he refused to join the debate’
      • ‘By avoiding stories that involve progeny, Weamys is better able to suggest that Sidney's voice is somehow speaking through her.’
      • ‘I don't want to say that a voice was speaking through me.’
      • ‘Alexander spoke to the general community through a fortnightly column on world affairs in the West Australian among other extra-curricular activities.’
      • ‘She could feel the presence of Ishtar welling within her and knew that the Goddess was speaking through her.’
      • ‘It was silent, until it crackled up again, Hirashi's voice speaking through it.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It felt like someone else had taken over my body now and was speaking through me and my lips.’
      • ‘Then his Honour referred to the majority of the Supreme Court speaking through Justice Black.’
      • ‘We noticed early on that Plato, speaking through Socrates, demands that knowledge be stable.’
      • ‘Thank you, Sammy, for speaking through this untalented man.’
      • ‘Akidan was surprised at the words: it was as if someone else was speaking through her.’
      • ‘The company boss - speaking through his financial PR - also denied that the deal had been inked.’
      • ‘It takes a god - Apollo, no less, speaking through his oracle at Delphi - to clear the queen's name and unbind Leontes' eyes.’
      • ‘The ultimate authority in the church is the Spirit speaking through Scripture.’
      • ‘That's probably because there was someone else - a dream spirit or something, speaking through your mouth.’
      • ‘Now instead of just speaking through us, they can blog.’
      • ‘Zeynab will be speaking through an interpreter.’
      • ‘It was distant, full of the fury of a tempest on the sea, but it was Carmel's voice speaking through to him.’
    7. 1.7Mention or discuss in speech or writing.
      ‘the books speak of betrayal’
      • ‘The book recounts memories of former staff who speak of being very well looked after by the firm.’
      • ‘The family spoke of bringing the civil action for damages as recently as four weeks ago.’
      • ‘He speaks of his experience as though it could be anyone's, though Simic's path has been anything but ordinary.’
      • ‘Nicholson speaks of his future with the same mix of bravado and worry that marked his early career.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘To hear these musicians speak of how their lives are enriched by their work, touches me deeply.’
      • ‘Having travelled widely, Jones feels particularly affected and troubled by the issues he speaks of.’
      • ‘Gray couldn't keep the pride out of his voice when he spoke of his eldest son writing a book.’
      • ‘Today, when we speak of scientific knowledge, we are not referring to a body of propositions that any one person knows to be true.’
      • ‘He begins at the beginning when he speaks of the act of writing.’
      • ‘They are a very popular subject of conversation and often spoken of in contemporary Western Arrernte society.’
      • ‘The Press spoke of it in terms that could as well have been applied to a marriage between a Habsburg and a Bourbon.’
      • ‘She then spoke of the occasion already referred to when she had seen the blood-stained trousers.’
      • ‘Her general principles are well known and she speaks of them frequently, particularly in her Christmas broadcast each year.’
      • ‘It resembled the kind of cities she saw in books that spoke of what the future would look like.’
      • ‘To their friends, Marie speaks of Jean in the present tense, as if he simply were away on a business trip.’
      • ‘Rarely shown and unavailable on video, independent cinema aficionados speak of it reverently.’
      • ‘In lyrics often borrowed from popular culture they speak of defiance and resistance.’
      • ‘Writing before the council of Nicaea, he speaks of Christ as a secondary deity.’
      • ‘Her mom had chosen to write to her in Afrikaans and spoke of the daily dealings at the house.’
      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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    8. 1.8(of behavior, a quality, an event, etc.) serve as evidence for something.
      ‘her harping on him spoke strongly of a crush’
      [with object] ‘his frame spoke tiredness’
      • ‘It turns out, this biographical information speaks more of Dowse's sense of humour than it does of his academic qualifications.’
      • ‘Door after door, each numbered rather than named, spoke of how many people were held here.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The fact that this campaign had to be initiated speaks of the sad state of misinformation current in North American society.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I merely need to soak it in, bathe in it, let it speak to me the way it has spoken to others.’
      indicate, mean, suggest, show, denote, display, demonstrate, be evidence of, register, reflect, reveal, betray, evince, disclose, exhibit, manifest
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    9. 1.9(of an object that typically makes a sound when it functions) make a characteristic sound.
      ‘the gun spoke again’
      • ‘It's silence in remembrance of a talented, haunted man, but he deserves a eulogy, and his guitar speaks better than anyone ever could.’
      • ‘The remarkable thing, though, is that both instruments speak with a distinctive voice that is recognisably the same.’
      • ‘Five times in instantaneous succession, the heavy gun spoke, the crashing sound deafening all within the room.’
      • ‘Crashing chords pound out from the piano line while the clarinet speaks in a tonal, coolly cerebral mode.’
      • ‘The animal's head was visible on the road, and the gun spoke.’
      • ‘Her ability to make full use of the space into which this splendid instrument speaks is pure delight.’
      • ‘Mozart raises the accompaniment to share some of that interest, so that the violin and the piano speak on relatively equal terms.’
    10. 1.10archaic [with object or adverbial]Show or manifest (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’
      • ‘She had never seen any thing that betrayed him to be unprincipled or unjust, anything that spoke him of irreligious or 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.’
    11. 1.11(of an organ pipe or other musical instrument) make a sound.
      ‘insufficient air circulates for the pipes to speak’
      • ‘When notes are played, it uses the air from the chest to make the pipes speak.’
      • ‘Mr Smith says that he can make metal pipes speak like those of wood.’
    12. 1.12(of a dog) bark.
      • ‘Tell him to speak and then wait for him to speak.’
      • ‘Every so often retrain the "Speak" command to keep this reinforcement.’
    13. 1.13Nautical archaic [with object]Hail and hold communication with (a ship) at sea.
  • 2Talk to in order to reprove or advise.

    ‘she tried to speak to Seth about his drinking’
    • ‘For now, bond yields backed-up somewhat, while currency traders bought dollars as if our Fed chairman was speaking to them directly.’
    • ‘Do not associate with the disobedient person; and if you must, speak to him/her as one who needs a warning.’
    • ‘The issue of when to speak to children about sex is long been discussed.’
    • ‘Who will speak to the children about God?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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. 2.1Talk to in order to give or extract information.
      ‘he had spoken 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.’
      • ‘We spoke to a real estate agent, who showed us a lovely cottage overlooking the bay.’
      • ‘The man continued to speak to the police, all the while looking through the zoom lens of his video camera.’
      • ‘She went on to say that when she spoke to the police she tried to help them by telling the truth.’
      • ‘Hepburn said it made no sense to use intermediaries to deal with advertising agencies, instead of speaking to them directly.’
      • ‘Ellen dashed from the convertible and went to speak to the police.’
      • ‘They said they wanted to speak to me and she said, ‘He doesn't want to speak to the police’.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘My instructing solicitor spoke to the applicant this morning.’
      speak to, talk to, make conversation with, engage in conversation
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2Discuss or comment on formally.
      ‘the Church wants to speak to real issues’
      • ‘I've never known a gay man before, so I cannot speak to those issues.’
      • ‘Everyone is funny and smart, and the speeches speak to real issues; this is a group of people who love comics.’
      • ‘So I asked a friend of the film to speak to the issue and what came back, I thought, was worth printing.’
      • ‘Stephens' comments speak to another critical issue regarding confidantes.’
      • ‘It's less about creating minimalist abstract objects that, by virtue of their existence, speak to formal concerns.’
    3. 2.3Appeal or relate to.
      ‘the story spoke to him directly’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘These cases, however, do not speak to the issue of when or why maternal custody is justified.’
      • ‘As important as this contribution is, however, it speaks only to the converted.’
      • ‘Drawings were sequenced in the gallery according to an internal, formal logic; they spoke to one another like semaphores.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Their focus on customer requirements, collaborative work, and less formal products speaks to the future.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If you're between the ages of 32 and 48, and this story spoke to you, I very much want to hear from you.’


  • not to speak of

    • Used in introducing a further factor to be considered.

      ‘the rent had to be paid, not to speak of school tuition’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Although the appellant is a Punjabi, the Punjabi people are to be found all over India, not to speak of all over the world.’
      • ‘The sidewalk festival, now in its 38th year, attracts 300 regional and national artists - not to speak of the 50,000 visitors.’
  • nothing (or no —— or none) to speak of

    • Used to indicate that there is some but very little of something.

      ‘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.’
      • ‘There are no extras to speak of apart from a dirty and grainy teaser trailer.’
      • ‘Obviously Waterloo lacks perspective on drinking laws and apparently has no real crime to speak of.’
      • ‘The sound is the original mono and is reproduced clearly with no noticeable hiss or noise to speak of.’
      • ‘This movie doesn't have much of a plot to speak of - it mainly consists of a several skits tied together.’
      • ‘A few trailers are included on the film, but there are no major extras to speak of, which is a shame.’
      • ‘They hadn't done anything to his hair, of which there wasn't much to speak of.’
      • ‘One of the problems's there's hardly a music industry to speak of in Ukraine - at least not a legal one.’
      • ‘The book doesn't actually have any conflict to speak of, as a friend of mine pointed out as we were leaving.’
      • ‘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.’
  • so to speak

  • something speaks for itself

    • Something's implications are so clear that it needs no supporting evidence or comments.

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

    • 1Give one's own opinions.

      • ‘Well, speaking for myself, comrades, there I draw the line. Not one step.’
      • ‘I think a lot of us who did that - I certainly am speaking for myself - do not - I'm not proud of that.’
      • ‘And she spoke for herself, not for anyone else.’
      • ‘Precisely because academics are free to express their own views, people know that a professor speaks for himself, and not necessarily for the university.’
      • ‘Inside the quiet, orderly courtroom, facing the judge, Libby spoke for himself.’
      • ‘This is particularly the case for individuals with learning disabilities who often have difficulties in speaking for themselves.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘They were speaking for themselves,’ Duboff commented.’
      1. 1.1[in imperative]Used to tell someone that what they have said may apply to them but does not apply to others.
        ‘“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.

      • ‘They believe that they speak in tongues because they have been baptized with the Holy Spirit and are filled with its power.’
      • ‘Since I do speak in tongues, I feel that I can bring scriptural wisdom with experience.’
      • ‘This still allows for someone to speak in tongues when they are in prayer at home, or singing, or whatever else.’
      • ‘Once again, we see in both of these cases that the ability to speak in tongues was given for specific purposes.’
      • ‘Most Christians who speak in tongues believe that they are speaking in an existing language.’
      • ‘That many Protestant churches that call upon many people, even hundreds during a service, to speak in tongues contravenes Paul's divine mandate, and raises doubts about its authenticity.’
      • ‘This is a grave mistake since not all people speak in tongues because not all people are gifted by the Holy Spirit this way.’
      • ‘In fact, believers in every country of the world do speak in tongues - over 332 million of them.’
      • ‘He mentioned that people who are energized by the Holy Spirit to the extent that they can speak in tongues also have an energized personal spiritual life.’
    • see tongue
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Glossolalia was a central part of Parham's message and one of his students, Agnes Ozman, spoke in tongues on 1 January 1901.’
      • ‘This conveys power to practise the gifts of the Spirit: speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing, exorcism.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, Pastor Lake egged him on, breaking out into pointed applause and speaking in tongues.’
      • ‘Fuelled by American-style revivalism, the church emphasized radical gospel practices - such as speaking in tongues - that whipped worshippers into a frenzy.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Goff eventually received the Pentecostal experience and spoke in tongues along with other ministers in the conference.’
  • speak one's mind

    • Express one's feelings or opinions frankly.

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

    • 1(of a gesture, circumstance, or object) convey a great deal.

      ‘a look that spoke volumes’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘Actions speak louder than words, and inaction speaks volumes.’
      • ‘The look spoke volumes, volumes Zack couldn't grasp.’
      • ‘Who needs fancy words when an effortless turn of inflection can speak volumes?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Many emotions were playing across Carly's expressive face, speaking volumes without saying a word.’
      • ‘His expression spoke volumes his words could not.’
      • ‘Buffy stood up and walked toward Spike, and I could see how effortlessly her every gesture spoke volumes to him.’
      1. 1.1Be good evidence for.
        ‘his record speaks volumes for his determination’
        • ‘Indeed, that there is so much to find in it speaks volumes for its artistic value.’
        • ‘But, in a way, that speaks volumes for the merits of these structures.’
        • ‘How a state crafts its rules regarding both evidence and defendants' rights speaks volumes about its national values.’
        • ‘His managerial record during the qualifying phase over the past 18 months speaks volumes for the growing maturity of both the manager and the team.’
        • ‘The contrast spoke volumes about the present crisis in documentary film-making.’
        • ‘The ability to sustain operations in this fashion speaks volumes for their flexibility and the operational focus.’
        • ‘Their inability to contribute anything more substantial than that speaks volumes for the timidity of the cause.’
        • ‘It is a symbol for London, a recognized addition to the city's high-profile skyline that includes St. Paul's Cathedral, which speaks volumes for its impact and acceptability.’
        • ‘From stock footage to video and undercover camera work, the fact that the image is mostly magnificent speaks volumes for the time and care taken to transfer this material to disc.’
        • ‘I once gave him a private fashion show that spoke volumes about our tastes.’
  • speak well (or ill) of

    • Praise (or criticize)

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You always spoke well of him, and I remember you were always rising to his defence.’
      • ‘They are really great people who spoke well of Macalester.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Although you spoke well of Smith's collection of essays, you also said that you were unfamiliar with his science fiction works.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He spoke well of Scotland and Scottish football.’
      • ‘After leaving school with good GCSEs he said she worked as a mobile hairdresser and was a woman that people spoke well of.’
      • ‘It was a speech that spoke well of multilateral action, postulating that there can and will be action.’
      • ‘Would you hire a bricklayer because he spoke well of his craft; or would you check whether his walls stood up?’

Phrasal Verbs

  • speak out (or up)

    • Express one's feelings or opinions frankly and publicly.

      ‘the administration will be forthright in speaking out against human rights abuses’
      • ‘The public spoke out, saying we don't need arms; we are not at war, and we are unlikely ever to be.’
      • ‘I just don't know what companies are doing because they're not willing to speak out publicly.’
      • ‘As first lady, did you ever speak out publicly about policy issues specific to gays and lesbians?’
      • ‘Freedom of speech is a fact, although by no means do individuals yet speak out freely at public meetings.’
      • ‘The vast majority of artists, mind you, don't speak out publicly at all.’
      • ‘I think people need to be able to speak out freely on public issues.’
      • ‘It shocked me to realize that he had decided to speak out on my behalf.’
      • ‘The highly publicized dispute led numerous arts professionals to speak out on behalf of the director.’
      • ‘A few of my colleagues do speak out on public issues, others don't.’
      • ‘He spoke out publicly during colonialism and in post-colonial politics against what he considered to be injustices.’
      • ‘She spoke up very well for herself, just like a doctor's wife should.’
      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?’’
      • ‘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 up? What a notion, coming as I did from the land of "Sit down, Francine" and "Be quiet, Francine".’
      • ‘Can you speak up? I can't hear you!’
      speak loudly, speak more loudly, speak out, speak clearly, raise one's voice, shout, yell, bellow, call at the top of one's voice
      View synonyms
  • speak up for

    • Speak in defense or support of.

      ‘there was no independent body to speak up for press freedoms’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We were worried the decision was made in advance but a couple of the councillors spoke up for us.’
      • ‘The older is more independent minded and can speak up for herself.’
      • ‘What do we have to fear from speaking up for what we believe in?’
      • ‘Jack Locke is a person who speaks up for what he believes in.’
      • ‘But I'm speaking up for all the other women he has betrayed with his so-called sexual bravado.’
      • ‘She was always a person who would speak up for what was right, even if feathers got ruffled.’
      • ‘To speak up for or defend animals who cannot defend themselves against abuse is not a crime, nor should it ever be one.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But that doesn't mean you can't speak up for what you want.’
      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


Old English sprecan, later specan; related to Dutch spreken and German sprechen.