"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[spee-king] /ˈspi kɪŋ/
the act, utterance, or discourse of a person who speaks.
speakings, literary works composed for recitation, as ancient bardic poetry; oral literature.
that speaks.
used in, suited to, or involving speaking or talking:
the speaking voice.
of or relating to declamation.
giving information as if by speech:
a speaking proof of a thing.
highly expressive:
speaking eyes.
a speaking likeness.
not on speaking terms, not or no longer in a relationship of open, willing, or ready communication, as because of resentment or estrangement:
They had a squabble during the holidays, and now they're not on speaking terms.
on speaking terms,
  1. in a relationship close enough for or limited to friendly superficialities:
    I don't know the hosts well, but we are certainly on speaking terms.
  2. in a relationship of open, willing, or ready communication:
    Now that the debt has been settled, I hope you and your partner are on speaking terms again.
Origin of speaking
1200-50; Middle English; see speak, -ing1, -ing2
Related forms
speakingly, adverb
speakingness, noun
nonspeaking, adjective
well-speaking, adjective


[speek] /spik/
verb (used without object), spoke or (Archaic) spake; spoken or (Archaic) spoke; speaking.
to utter words or articulate sounds with the ordinary voice; talk:
He was too ill to speak.
to communicate vocally; mention:
to speak to a person of various matters.
to converse:
She spoke with him for an hour.
to deliver an address, discourse, etc.:
to speak at a meeting.
to make a statement in written or printed words.
to communicate, signify, or disclose by any means; convey significance.
Phonetics. to produce sounds or audible sequences of individual or concatenated sounds of a language, especially through phonation, amplification, and resonance, and through any of a variety of articulatory processes.
(of a computer) to express data or other information audibly by means of an audio response unit.
to emit a sound, as a musical instrument; make a noise or report.
Chiefly British. (of dogs) to bark when ordered.
Fox Hunting. (of a hound or pack) to bay on finding a scent.
verb (used with object), spoke or (Archaic) spake; spoken or (Archaic) spoke; speaking.
to utter vocally and articulately:
to speak words of praise.
to express or make known with the voice:
to speak the truth.
to declare in writing or printing, or by any means of communication.
to make known, indicate, or reveal.
to use, or be able to use, in oral utterance, as a language:
to speak French.
(of a computer) to express or make known (data, prompts, etc.) by means of an audio response unit.
Nautical. to communicate with (a passing vessel) at sea, as by voice or signal:
We spoke a whaler on the fourth day at sea.
Archaic. to speak to or with.
Verb phrases
speak for,
  1. to intercede for or recommend; speak in behalf of.
  2. to express or articulate the views of; represent.
  3. to choose or prefer; have reserved for oneself:
    This item is already spoken for.
speak out, to express one's opinion openly and unreservedly:
He was not afraid to speak out when it was something he believed in strongly.
so to speak, to use a manner of speaking; figuratively speaking:
We still don't have our heads above water, so to speak.
speak by the book, to say with great authority or precision:
I can't speak by the book, but I know this is wrong.
speak well for, to be an indication or reflection of (something commendable); testify admirably to:
Her manners speak well for her upbringing.
to speak of, worth mentioning:
The country has no mineral resources to speak of.
before 900; Middle English speken, Old English specan, variant of sprecan; cognate with German sprechen (Old High German sprehhan; compare variant spehhan)
Related forms
speakable, adjective
speakableness, noun
speakably, adverb
1. Speak, converse, talk mean to make vocal sounds, usually for purposes of communication. To speak often implies conveying information and may apply to anything from an informal remark to a scholarly presentation to a formal address: to speak sharply; to speak before Congress. To converse is to exchange ideas with someone by speaking: to converse with a friend. To talk is a close synonym for to speak but usually refers to less formal situations: to talk about the weather; to talk with a friend. 12. pronounce, articulate. 13. say. 15. disclose. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for speaking
  • Generally speaking, winter squash are for big gardens.
  • Sea urchins and humans have a remarkable amount in common-genetically speaking.
  • It could be the start of a new long-term pattern that sees the meadow more in sync, seasonally speaking, with down-mountain areas.
  • The ancient lamprey had a much larger mouth, proportionately speaking, than modern lampreys do.
  • Generally speaking, transplanted cougars are unlikely to stay where you put them.
  • If public speaking doesn't come naturally to you, work on it.
  • Only one of the economists consistently noted those affiliations when speaking and writing publicly.
  • speaking from experience, the biggest problem is that they are simply not sincere in what they tell you or what they do.
  • Choosing a research topic and finding an adviser are clearly linked, although generally speaking the first precedes the second.
  • He is also supposed to submit any requests for compensated speaking engagements to the dean's office for review.
British Dictionary definitions for speaking


(prenominal) eloquent, impressive, or striking
  1. able to speak
  2. (in combination) able to speak a particular language: French-speaking


verb speaks, speaking, spoke, spoken
to make (verbal utterances); utter (words)
to communicate or express (something) in or as if in words: I speak the truth
(intransitive) to deliver a speech, discourse, etc
(transitive) to know how to talk in (a language or dialect): he does not speak German
(intransitive) to make a characteristic sound: the clock spoke
(intransitive) (of dogs, esp hounds used in hunting) to give tongue; bark
(transitive) (nautical) to hail and converse or communicate with (another vessel) at sea
(intransitive) (of a musical instrument) to produce a sound
(intransitive) foll by for. to be a representative or advocate (of): he speaks for all the members
on speaking terms, on good terms; friendly
so to speak, in a manner of speaking; as it were
speak one's mind, to express one's opinions frankly and plainly
to speak of, of a significant or worthwhile nature: we have had no support to speak of
Derived Forms
speakable, adjective
Word Origin
Old English specan; related to Old High German spehhan, Middle High German spechten to gossip, Middle Dutch speken; see speech
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for speaking



Old English specan, variant of sprecan "to speak" (class V strong verb; past tense spræc, past participle sprecen), from Proto-Germanic *sprekanan (cf. Old Saxon sprecan, Old Frisian spreka, Middle Dutch spreken, Old High German sprehhan, German sprechen "to speak," Old Norse spraki "rumor, report"), cognate with Latin spargere "to strew" (speech as a "scattering" of words; see sparse).

The -r- began to drop out in Late West Saxon and was gone by mid-12c., perhaps from influence of Danish spage "crackle," in a slang sense of "speak" (cf. crack in slang senses having to do with speech, e.g. wisecrack, cracker, all it's cracked up to be). Rare variant forms without -r- also are found in Middle Dutch (speken) and Old High German (spehhan).

Not the primary word for "to speak" in Old English (the "Beowulf" author prefers maþelian, from mæþel "assembly, council," from root of metan "to meet;" cf. Greek agoreuo "to speak," originally "speak in the assembly," from agora "assembly").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with speaking
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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