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speak - definition and synonyms

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90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

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verb     speak pronunciation in American English
Word Forms
present tense
present participlespeaking
past tensespoke
past participlespoken
  1. 1
    [intransitive] to talk to someone about something
    speak to:

    I phoned your office and spoke to your assistant.

    speak with:

    Let me speak with Jennifer and see what she thinks.

    speak of:

    People spoke of their fear as the tornado approached.

    speak about:

    He spoke movingly about his son’s struggle with cancer.

    1. a.
      to talk about something in a particular way

      Let me speak frankly.

  2. 2
    [intransitive] to use your voice to talk

    There was a long pause before she spoke again.

    He spoke so softly it was difficult to hear what he said.

  3. 3
    [transitive] to be able to talk in a particular language

    Do you speak Chinese?

    He speaks three languages.

  4. 4
    [intransitive] to give a formal speech
    speak at:

    The governor will be speaking at our graduation.

    speak to:

    Petersen spoke to an audience of 2,000 at the conference.

  5. 5
    [intransitive/transitive] to express your ideas, thoughts, or opinions about something
    speak against/in favor of:

    Only a small group of people dared to speak against the war.

    speak well/highly of someone (=say good things about someone):

    Yvonne has spoken so highly of you.

    speak badly/ill of someone (=say bad things about someone):

    You shouldn’t speak ill of your father.

  6. 6
    [intransitive] to speak to someone on the telephone

    “Who’s speaking?” “This is Mark Richards speaking.”

    1. a.
      used for telling someone who has called you on the telephone and has asked to talk to you that they are speaking to the right person

      “Is Janey there, please?” “Speaking.”

  7. From our crowdsourced Open Dictionary
    speak human (of a politician) to be able to communicate and connect with ordinary people

    His clarity of intellect was reflected in a clarity of utterance which gave him a special connection with the public, who prized him for his ability to speak human.

    Submitted from United Kingdom on 02/06/2015
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to manipulate someone psychologically so that they begin to question their own perceptions and memories

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Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

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