speak ( speaks 3rd person present) ( speaking present participle) ( spoke past tense) ( spoken past participle )
1 verb When you speak, you use your voice in order to say something.
He tried to speak, but for once, his voice had left him... V
I rang the hotel and spoke to Louie... V to/with n
She says she must speak with you at once... V to/with n
She cried when she spoke of Oliver. V of/about n
...as I spoke these idiotic words. V n
spoken adj ADJ n
...a marked decline in the standards of written and spoken English in Britain.
2 verb When someone speaksto a group of people, they make a speech.
When speaking to the seminar Mr Franklin spoke of his experience, gained on a recent visit to Trinidad... V to n
He's determined to speak at the Democratic Convention... V
The President spoke of the need for territorial compromise. V of n
3 verb If you speak for a group of people, you make their views and demands known, or represent them.
He said it was the job of the Church to speak for the underprivileged... V for n
I speak for all 7,000 members of our organization... V for n
4 verb If you speak a foreign language, you know the language and are able to have a conversation in it.
He doesn't speak English... V n
5 verb People sometimes mention something that has been written by saying what the author speaks of.
Throughout the book Liu speaks of the abuse of Party power... V of n
St Paul speaks of the body as the `temple of the Holy Spirit'. V of n as n
6 v-recip If two people arenotspeaking, they no longer talk to each other because they have quarrelled.
He is not speaking to his mother because of her friendship with his ex-wife... V to n
The co-stars are still not speaking. pl-n V
7 verb If you say that something speaks foritself, you mean that its meaning or quality is so obvious that it does not need explaining or pointing out.
...the figures speak for themselves<endash>low order books, bleak prospects at home and a worsening outlook for exports... V for pron-refl
9 If you say `Speak for yourself' when someone has said something, you mean that what they have said is only their opinion or applies only to them.
speak for yourself convention
`We're not blaming you,' Kate said. `Speak for yourself,' Boris muttered.
10 If a person or thing is spoken for or has been spoken for, someone has claimed them or asked for them, so no-one else can have them.
be spoken for phrase V inflects
She'd probably drop some comment about her `fiancé' into the conversation so that he'd think she was already spoken for...
11 Nothing to speak of means `hardly anything' or `only unimportant things'.
to speak of phrase n PHR, with brd-neg
They have no weaponry to speak of..., `Any fresh developments?'—`Nothing to speak of.'
12 If you speak well of someone or speak highly of someone, you say good things about them. If you speak ill of someone, you criticize them.
speak well/highly/ill of sb phrase V inflects, PHR n
Both spoke highly of the Russian president..., It seemed she found it difficult to speak ill of anyone.
13 You use so to speak to draw attention to the fact that you are describing or referring to something in a way that may be amusing or unusual rather than completely accurate.
so to speak phrase PHR with cl
I ought not to tell you but I will, since you're in the family, so to speak...
14 If you are on speaking termswith someone, you are quite friendly with them and often talk to them.
on speaking terms phrase usu v-link PHR, oft PHR with n
For a long time her mother and her grandmother had hardly been on speaking terms.
to speak your mind
to speak volumes
volume speak out phrasal verb If you speak out against something or in favour of something, you say publicly that you think it is bad or good.
As tempers rose, he spoke out strongly against some of the radical ideas for selling off state-owned property... V P prep
Even then, she continued to speak out at rallies around the country. V P speak up
1 phrasal verb If you speak up, you say something, especially to defend a person or protest about something, rather than just saying nothing.
Uncle Herbert never argued, never spoke up for himself... V P for n
2 phrasal verb If you ask someone to speak up, you are asking them to speak more loudly.
I'm quite deaf<endash>you'll have to speak up. V P