Date: 1200-1300
Origin: Probably from Old English talian 'to count, consider, tell'


1 verb
talk1 S1 W1


[intransitive] to say things to someone as part of a conversation:
I could hear Sarah and Andy talking in the next room.
talk about
English people love to talk about the weather.
All through the afternoon, they sat and talked about their trip.
talk to
She spent a long time talking to him.
She's very easy to talk to.
talk with
I got the truth from talking with Elena.
talk together
They were talking together in the hall.
Sue and Bob still aren't talking (=are refusing to talk to each other).
talk in a low voice/a whisper etc
They were talking in low voices, and I couldn't catch what they were saying.
talk of (=used especially in formal or literary contexts)
We talked of old times.
see usage note speak

serious subject

[intransitive] to discuss something serious or important with someone:
Joe, we need to talk.
Is there somewhere we can talk in private?
talk to
You should talk to a lawyer.
talk about
We've been talking about getting married.
talk with
Parents should talk with their children about drug abuse.
talk sport/politics/business etc
'Let's not talk politics now,' said Hugh impatiently.

say words

[intransitive] to produce words and express thoughts, opinions, ideas etc:
She was talking so fast I could hardly understand her.
How do babies learn to talk?
Some residents were frightened to talk publicly.
talk (in) French/German etc
They started talking in Spanish.
Don't let Dad hear you talking like that (=expressing things in a particular way).

a speech

[intransitive] to give a speech
talk on/about
Professor Davis will talk about 'Trends in Network Computing'.

secret information

[intransitive] if someone who has secret information talks, they tell someone else about it:
Even under torture, Maskell refused to talk.
He tried to stop his ex-wife from talking on live TV.
We should stop meeting like this. People will talk.

talk sense/rubbish/nonsense etc

especially British English spoken used to say that you think someone is saying something sensible, something stupid etc:
You do talk rubbish sometimes, Jules.

talk (some) sense into somebody

to persuade someone to behave sensibly:
She hoped Father McCormack would be able to talk some sense into her son.

talk to yourself

to say your thoughts out loud:
'What did you say?' 'Sorry, I was just talking to myself.'

know what you are talking about

spoken to know a lot about a particular subject:
I worked in hotels for years, so I know what I'm talking about.

talk the hind leg(s) off a donkey

informal to talk a lot, especially about unimportant things

talk about lazy/cheap/hungry etc

spoken used to emphasize that someone or something is very lazy, cheap, hungry etc:
Talk about lucky. That's the second time he's won this week!

talking of/about something

spoken used to say more about a subject that someone has just mentioned:
Talking of Venice, have you seen the masks I bought there last year?

what are you talking about?

spoken used when you think what someone has said is stupid or wrong:
What are you talking about? We got there in plenty of time.

I'm talking to you!

spoken used when you are angry that the person you are talking to is not paying attention:
Rob! I'm talking to you!

be like talking to a brick wall

spoken used to say that it is annoying to speak to someone because they do not pay attention to you

talk somebody's ear off

American English spoken to talk too much to someone

talk trash

American English informal to say rude or offensive things to or about someone, especially to opponents in a sports competition:
Both teams were talking trash on the court.

talk the talk

American English informal to say the things that people expect or think are necessary in a particular situation:
She didn't talk the talk of feminism, but her career was the most important thing in her life.

➔ walk the walk

at walk1 (12)

I'm/we're/you're talking (about) something

spoken used in conversation to emphasize a fact or remind someone of it:
I'm not talking about ancient history, I'm talking about last season's performance.

now you're talking

spoken used to say that you think someone's suggestion is a good idea:
'Fancy an ice cream?' 'Now you're talking.'

look who's talking

also you're a fine one to talk, you can talk spoken used to tell someone they should not criticize someone else's behaviour because their own behaviour is just as bad:
'Peggy shouldn't smoke so much.' 'Look who's talking!'

we're/you're talking £500/three days etc

spoken used to tell someone how much something will cost, how long something will take to do etc:
To do a proper job, you're talking £750 minimum.

talk your way out of something

informal to escape from an bad or embarrassing situation by giving explanations, excuses etc:
She's good at talking her way out of trouble.

talk nineteen to the dozen

British English informal talk a blue streak American English to talk very quickly without stopping

talk in riddles

to deliberately talk in a strange and confusing way:
Stop talking in riddles and explain what's going on.

talk tough (on something)

informal to give people your opinions very strongly:
The President is talking tough on crime.

talk shop

if people talk shop, they talk about their work when there are people present who are not interested or involved in it - used to show disapproval:
Are you two going to talk shop all night?

talk dirty (to somebody)

informal to talk in a sexual way to someone in order to make them feel sexually excited

be talking through your hat

British English informal if someone is talking through their hat, they say stupid things about something that they do not understand

talk smack

American English informal to criticize someone or something in an unpleasant way

talk to the hand

spoken informal used to tell someone rudely that you do not want to listen to anything he or she is going to say to you. When people use this expression, they also usually turn their face away from the other person and hold the palm of their hand out towards them.
chat/natter British English to talk in a friendly way about things that are not very important
to talk about other people's private lives
drone on
/go on British English/hold forth waffle British English ramble to talk for too long in a boring way
to talk very quietly
/murmur mutter to talk in a way that is difficult to hear
talk conversation, discussion, negotiation, debate

talk around/round

phrasal verb

talk somebody around/round

to persuade someone to change their opinion about something:
Leave Betty to me. I'll soon talk her round.

talk around/round something

to discuss a problem without really dealing with the important parts of it:
They had spent half the night talking round the subject.

talk back

phrasal verb
to answer someone in authority such as a teacher or parent in a rude or impolite way

talk somebody/something ↔ down

phrasal verb
1 British English to make something seem less successful, interesting, good etc than it really is:
the pessimists who are talking down Britain
2TTA to help a pilot land an aircraft by giving them instructions from the ground by radio

talk down to somebody

phrasal verb
to talk to someone as if they are stupid, although they are not [= patronize]:
The students felt that they were talked down to as though they were children.

talk somebody into something

phrasal verb
to persuade someone to do something
talk somebody into doing something
My husband talked me into going skiing.

talk something ↔ out

phrasal verb
1 to discuss a problem thoroughly in order to solve it:
We need to spend a little time talking this out.
talk something ↔ out with
It might help if you talked it out with Dad.
2 British English if politicians talk out a proposal, they talk about it for a long time deliberately so that there will not be enough time to vote on it [= filibuster]:
The Land Protection Bill was talked out by MPs from rural areas.

talk somebody out of something

phrasal verb
to persuade someone not to do something
talk somebody out of doing something
Can't you talk them out of selling the house?

talk something ↔ over

phrasal verb
to discuss a problem with someone before deciding what to do
talk something ↔ over with
Talk over any worries with your GP.

talk through something

phrasal verb

talk something ↔ through

to discuss something thoroughly so that you are sure you understand it:
Allow time to talk through any areas of difficulty.

talk somebody through something

to help someone understand a process, method etc by explaining it to them carefully before they use it:
Trevor talked me through loading the software.

talk something ↔ up

phrasal verb
to make something appear more important, interesting, successful etc than it really is:
Jones talked up the idea at the meeting.

speak, talk
When one person is saying things, you can use talk or speak, but talk is more usual and speak slightly literary She talked about her job. He spoke longingly of his home country. Don't interrupt me when I'm talking/speaking.If people are having a conversation, always use talk We talked about our relationship. They talked for hours. If you say that two people are not speaking, you mean they are not willing to talk to each other They've had a row and they're not speaking.Someone who can talk has learned to use language She could talk before she was two.If you can speak, you are able to say something on a particular occasion I was too scared to speak.!! When you mention what language someone uses, always use speak She speaks (=knows how to use) French and Spanish. We spoke in German at first, then English.!! When you ask for someone on the telephone, use speak Can I speak to Clare?!! You can speak words. Do not use talk I spoke the words as clearly as I could.!! You can talk sense or talk nonsense. Do not use speak I think she talks a lot of sense.See also speak

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