Definition of speed in English:

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Pronunciation: /spēd/


1The rate at which someone or something is able to move or operate: we turned onto the runway and began to gather speed an engine running at full speed the car has a top speed of 147 mph
More example sentences
  • Everyone began moving at their top speed out of the dungeon and through the halls.
  • It's said that London traffic moves at an average speed of 11 mph, but pedestrian traffic can't be far behind.
  • It does a reasonably good job of this, especially when you consider that there is a broad range of craft in the game, most of which differ in turn rates and top speeds.
rate, pace, tempo, momentum
1.1Rapidity of movement or action: the accident was due to excessive speed
More example sentences
  • The accident happened due to excessive speed, contributed to by the condition of the near side rear tyre.
  • ‘The cause of this collision is due to excessive speed,’ PC Cox said.
  • He said the ‘unfortunate’ accident was due to excessive speed and the torrential rain.
rapidity, swiftness, speediness, quickness, dispatch, promptness, immediacy, briskness, sharpness;
haste, hurry, precipitateness;
acceleration, velocity
informal lick, clip, warp speed
literary celerity
1.2The rate at which something happens or is done: they were bemused by the speed of events the course is delivered on CDROM so students can progress at their own speed
More example sentences
  • I just want to bring you up to speed.
  • The speed with which the 76-year-old tycoon has moved has staggered most observers.
  • Our results also suggest that clonal interference may not have a large effect on the speed of adaptation.
2Each of the possible gear ratios of a bicycle or motor vehicle.
3The light-gathering power or f-number of a camera lens.
Example sentences
  • Lens speed indicates how bright the image in the viewfinder will be.
  • I'm not sure I can give you the correct information on the lens speed.
3.1The duration of a photographic exposure.
Example sentences
  • This will provide an extra stop of exposure; remember to set it back to the correct speed once the fog or mist has burned off.
  • Scott also plays with lenses, camera speed and some excellent special effects to heighten the impact of the harrowing fight scenes.
  • As camera speeds became quicker, so the image was transformed.
3.2The sensitivity of photographic film to light.
Example sentences
  • Films also vary according to their ISO number or film speed: their sensitivity to light.
  • The days of having to carry bulk film around or switch between different film types and speeds is now a distant memory for those who have made the technology leap.
  • He discusses camera types, lenses, focal length, flash, light, digital photographs, and film types and speeds.
4 informal An amphetamine drug, especially methamphetamine.
Example sentences
  • Aimed at drug users and their families, the film centres on former drug addicts who were addicted to heroin cocaine, speed and ecstasy.
  • Drugs such as speed and cocaine are often mixed together to make a lethal concoction that can destroy lives.
  • Banning parties and blockading raves will not stop a movement, nor will it stop the use of ecstasy, cocaine, speed, heroin and pot for that matter.
5 informal Something that matches one’s tastes or inclinations: oak tables and chairs are more his speed
6 archaic Success; prosperity: wish me good speed

verb (past sped /sped/ or speeded)

1 [no object] Move quickly: I got into the car and home we sped
More example sentences
  • If our troops can speed quickly through Iraq and deal with this monster it stands to reason that his own people must applaud our efforts.
  • She screamed, throwing her groceries in the air, and the four of us burst into laughter as Adam quickly sped out of the parking lot.
  • Banking quickly, Jonathan sped away with Kyle in hot pursuit.
hurry, rush, dash, run, race, sprint, bolt, dart, gallop, career, charge, shoot, hurtle, careen, hare, fly, zoom, scurry, scuttle, scamper, hasten
informal tear, belt, pelt, scoot, zip, zap, whip, hotfoot it, bomb, hightail it
1.1(Of a motorist) travel at a speed that is greater than the legal limit: the car that crashed was speeding
More example sentences
  • She practically speeded to Crystal's house, she had to vent her anger through someone.
  • Gary jumped into the car and Louise threw herself in and they speeded across the town to the restaurant.
  • They speeded out of Jake's neighborhood and on to the road that went into town.
drive too fast, exceed the speed limit
1.2 (speed up) Move or work more quickly: you force yourself to speed up because you don’t want to keep others waiting
More example sentences
  • Inching along head-lamp deep, the traffic moves again, speeding up when we reach the dry roads of the South Coast.
  • The heart rate speeds up in order to quickly provide the extra oxygen and nutrients your body will need.
  • I called quickly in return, speeding up to follow him.
1.3 [with object] Cause to move, act, or happen more quickly: recent initiatives have sought to speed up decision-making
More example sentences
  • Once again, sorry if I sped things up too quickly, but I can't change my desire to get this story finished.
  • It speeds things up for suspects, can eliminate them more quickly if they are innocent, and means witnesses are not in close proximity to the suspects as they can be under the old system.
  • For months, they have argued they wanted to speed it up, so this woman has this trial very quickly.
hasten, expedite, speed up, accelerate, advance, further, promote, boost, stimulate, aid, assist, facilitate
2 [with object] archaic Make prosperous or successful: may God speed you
More example sentences
  • God speed you to your job in Brussels.
3 [no object] informal Take or be under the influence of an amphetamine drug: more kids than ever are speeding, tripping, and getting stoned



at speed

Quickly: a car flashed past them at speed
More example sentences
  • The Shannon airport police van approaches at speed, emergency lights flashing.
  • However, when you have 14 or 15 stone moving around at speed and hitting you, it's going to take its toll.
  • The driver, who was also wearing a balaclava, drove away at speed.

pick up speed

(Of a vehicle) go faster; accelerate.

up to speed

Operating at full speed.
Example sentences
  • I only had three hours of tech rehearsal, and that's usually a full load getting the sound and light cues up to speed for one show, much less four.
  • It could be argued that we weren't giving the coolers enough time to get fully up to speed.
3.1(Of a person or company) performing at an anticipated rate or level.
Example sentences
  • I expect to be up to speed very quickly and to meet the Government's review timetable.
  • Fortunately, several training courses are now offered in eastern Canada to help machine operators come up to speed more quickly.
  • One member regularly gives an elementary school-aged boy the one-on-one attention he needs to bring his reading skills up to speed.
3.2(Of a person) fully informed or up to date: that reminds me to bring you up to speed on the soap opera
More example sentences
  • We'll keep you fully up to speed on what's happening.
  • A class description or a short chat with your instructor should bring you up to speed.
  • He and his team now spend time educating people and bringing the company up to speed on grid-computing procedures.



Pronunciation: /ˈspēdər/
Example sentences
  • Are current penalties enough of a deterrent for speeders?
  • Traffic lights were also put into operation during that period and they helped to slow down the speeders that usually haunt Teeling Street.
  • The area has become notorious for late night car speeders and other activities that greatly annoy the locals.


Old English spēd (noun), spēdan (verb), from the Germanic base of Old English spōwan 'prosper, succeed', a sense reflected in early usage.

  • The Germanic root of this Old English word had a basic sense of ‘prosper, succeed’, which still survives in expressions as God speed! and more haste less speed. The link between this and ‘rapidity’ is probably our tendency to equate doing something well with doing it quickly. Speed has been a slang term for amphetamines since the 1960s.

Words that rhyme with speed

accede, bead, Bede, bleed, breed, cede, concede, creed, deed, Eid, exceed, feed, Gide, God speed, greed, he'd, heed, impede, interbreed, intercede, Jamshid, knead, lead, mead, Mede, meed, misdeed, mislead, misread, need, plead, proceed, read, rede, reed, Reid, retrocede, screed, secede, seed, she'd, stampede, steed, succeed, supersede, Swede, tweed, weak-kneed, we'd, weed

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: speed

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