Definition of speed in English:


Line breaks: speed
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.
  • 1.1Rapidity of movement or action: the accident was due to excessive speed
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    • 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.
  • 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
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    • 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.
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    • 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.
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    • 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.
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    • 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.
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    • 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.
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    • 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 /spɛd/)

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  • 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
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    • 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
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    • 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



More 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.

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