Definition of speed in English:

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Pronunciation: /spiːd/


1 [mass noun] The rate at which someone or something moves or operates or is able to move or operate: we turned on to the runway and began to gather speed an engine running at full speed [count noun]: 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, alacrity, quickness, fastness, celerity, velocity, dispatch, promptness, immediacy, expeditiousness, expedition, briskness, sharpness;
haste, hurry, hurriedness, precipitateness;
informal lick, clip
literary fleetness
rare alacritousness
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.
2.1US or dated Each of the possible gear ratios of a motor vehicle.
Example sentences
  • The car, named for the unique shape of its footboard, had a single cylinder four horse power engine, two forward speeds and a reverse gear.
  • Even if linked to a typically American automatic gearbox of only four speeds, it has sprightly performance.
  • The most nimble of all Jeeps, it comes with front and rear locking axles, giant tires, and extra low gear speeds.
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 [mass noun] 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 [mass noun] archaic Success; prosperity: wish me good speed

verb (past and past participle sped or speeded)

1 [no object, with adverbial of direction] 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, race, run, sprint, dash, bolt, dart, rush, hasten, hurtle, career, streak, shoot, whizz, zoom, go like lightning, go hell for leather, spank along, bowl along, rattle along, whirl, whoosh, buzz, swoop, flash, blast, charge, stampede, gallop, sweep, hare, fly, wing, scurry, scud, scutter, scramble
informal belt, pelt, tear, hotfoot it, leg it, zap, zip, whip, scoot, scorch, burn rubber, go like a bat out of hell
British informal bomb, bucket, shift, put one's foot down, go like the clappers
Scottish informal wheech
North American informal clip, boogie, hightail, barrel, lay rubber, get the lead out
North American vulgar slang drag/tear/haul ass
literary fleet
archaic post, hie
rare drive
1.1 (past and past participle speeded) [no object] (Of a motorist or vehicle) 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, break the speed limit
1.2 (past and past participle speeded) (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.
hurry up, accelerate, move faster, go faster, drive faster, get a move on, put a spurt on, open it up, increase speed, pick up speed, gather speed;
British  look smart
informal get cracking, get moving, step on it, step on the gas, shake a leg, rattle one's dags
British informal get one's skates on, stir one's stumps
North American informal get a wiggle on
South African informal put foot
dated make haste
1.3 (past and past participle speeded) [with object] Cause to move or happen more quickly: they 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, hurry up, accelerate, step up, advance, further, forward, promote, boost, give a boost to, stimulate, aid, assist, help along, facilitate
informal crank up
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 (or get up) speed

(Of a vehicle) go faster; accelerate: once out of the village, they picked up speed figurative the debate has picked up steam recently

up to speed

1Operating at full speed or at an expected rate or level: a noise like a jet engine coming up to speed the manager is just getting up to speed
More 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.
2 informal Fully informed or up to date: his secretary’s up to speed on IT
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.
familiarize, make conversant, acquaint, get up to date, keep up to date;
accustom to, habituate to, instruct in, coach in, train in, teach in, educate in, school in, prime in, indoctrinate in, initiate into, introduce to
informal gen up on, clue in on, clue up on, put in the picture about, put wise to, give the gen about, give the low-down on, give a rundown of, fill in on



Pronunciation: /ˈspiːdə/
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

Line breaks: speed

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