From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishspeakspeak /spiːk/ ●●● S1 W1 verb (past tense spoke /spəʊk $ spoʊk/, past participle spoken /ˈspəʊkən $ ˈspoʊ-/) 1 in conversation [intransitive always + adverb/preposition]SPEAK A LANGUAGE to talk to someone about somethingspeak to somebody I spoke to her last Wednesday. ‘Hello, may I speak to Jim Smith?’ ‘Yes, speaking (=used on the telephone)’. I know her by sight, but not to speak to (=not well enough to talk to her).speak to somebody about something I haven’t spoken to Steve about all this.speak with somebody especially American English They did not want to speak with reporters.speak of something It was the first time she had ever spoken of marriage.► see thesaurus at talk2 say words [intransitive]TALK TO somebody to use your voice to produce words I was so shocked I couldn’t speak. He spoke very softly (=quietly).3 language [transitive not in progressive]SLLSPEAK A LANGUAGE to be able to talk in a particular language Do you speak English? I don’t speak a word of French (=do not speak any French at all).can/can’t speak something Several children in the class can’t speak English.French-speaking/Italian-speaking etc a German-speaking secretary4 formal speech [intransitive]TALK/MAKE A SPEECH to make a formal speechspeak at Jones spoke at the teachers’ annual convention.speak to She asked me to speak to her students about my work in marketing.speak in favour of/against Only one MP spoke against the bill. → speaker(1)5 express ideas/opinions [intransitive always + adverb/preposition]SAYHONEST to say something that expresses your ideas or opinionsspeak as a parent/teacher/democrat etc He emphasized that he was speaking as a private citizen, not in any official capacity.speak well/highly/ill of somebody (=say good or bad things about someone) Her co-workers spoke highly of her. It’s wrong to speak ill of the dead.strictly/generally/roughly speaking (=used when expressing an idea that you think is exactly true, generally true etc) Strictly speaking, it’s my money, not yours. I earned it.6 → so to speak7 → speak your mind8 → be not speaking/not be on speaking terms9 → speak volumes (about/for something)10 → speak with one voice11 → speak the same language12 → speak out of turn → actions speak louder than words at action1(13), → the facts speak for themselves at fact(8), → in a manner of speaking at manner(5)COLLOCATIONS – Meaning 5: to say something that expresses your ideas or opinionsadverbsspeak well/highly of somebody (=say good things about them)He always spoke very highly of Marge.speak ill of somebody (=say bad things about them)She never speaks ill of him.speaking personallySpeaking personally, yes, this is a worry.strictly speakingStrictly speaking, the tomato is a fruit.generally speakingGenerally speaking, the results have been good.roughly/broadly speakingThese innovations are, roughly speaking, what this book is about.relatively speakingRelatively speaking, property there is still cheap.phrasesspeak as a parent/teacher etcSpeaking as a medical man, I'd advise you to take some exercise every day.THESAURUSto speak a languagespeak to be able to talk in a foreign languageDo you speak German?I learnt Spanish for years, but I still don’t speak it very well.be fluent in something to be very good at speaking and understanding a foreign language, so that you can speak it almost as well as your own languageApplicants should be fluent in Cantonese.get by to speak enough of a language to be able to buy things, ask for help etc‘What’s your Italian like?’ ‘Not great, but I can get by.’I’ve just bought a book called ‘Get by in Portuguese'.have/pick up a smattering of something to speak or learn to speak a small but useful amount of a languageWhile I was in Bali, I picked up a smattering of Indonesian. → speak for → speak of something → speak out → speak to somebody/something → speak up→ See Verb table
Examples from the Corpusspeak• She was too nervous to speak.• Don't interrupt me when I'm speaking.• How old are babies when they learn to speak?• He doesn't speak a word of French.• Is there anyone here who can speak Arabic?• Ambassador Simons has been asked to speak at the dinner.• I've been invited to speak at the party's annual convention.• Who are they getting to speak at this year's graduation ceremony?• Why do people not just speak directly and say what they mean?• At the convention Ford spoke on immigration and social issues.• The brothers haven't spoken since the funeral.• Nadia speaks six languages.• Elaine speaks Spanish and Russian.• Sean didn't speak the whole time we were in the car.• I spoke to a few people at the party who knew him.• Speaking to Congress, the President appealed for cooperation in dealing with the sagging economy.• The shamans explain that, at that point, they begin to speak to the dolphins mind to mind.• People we spoke to were undecided.• There's a man from the Times on the phone who wants to speak to you.• Can you speak up? -- I can't hear you.• She mumbled something and Dove asked her to speak up.• Don said he would be, but to please wait until after the Super Bowl to speak with him.• I had spoken with other newspaper executives, too, on that day.• When both parties cease to speak you have hit deadlock - wrong!speak of something• None of us ever heard her speak of the war again.speak in favour of/against• A forceful moderate, he electrified his colleagues by speaking in favour of collegiality, the Vatican s codeword for internal democracy.strictly/generally/roughly speaking• Neither the input nor the output of a Turing machine can, strictly speaking, be an infinite decimal.• Not strictly speaking, because the wedding was in a register office, and you don't have a best man.• It is, strictly speaking, conferred by the Constitution.• His point, strictly speaking, is correct.• By s.4 land generally speaking is not property which can be stolen.• Thus the importance of coinage for our understanding of the past diminishes, generally speaking, the more up to date we come.• Progress would enhance the wealth of those who, generally speaking, were already rich but not that of the masses.• If you use straw as bedding for farm animals, generally speaking you improve the welfare of those animals.