Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


The aged philosopher endeavoured to speak, but his voice was tremulous with emotion.

He has obtained from his son a solemn promise never to speak to me of marriage.

"I have not heard the rumours whereof you speak," replied Philothea.

But the Lacedæmonians make it a rule never to speak of danger from their slaves.

Phœbus protect me, but this is an awful place to speak of those who sleep.

Your own confessions, Eudora, do not speak well for her instructions.

I am sure the injury you speak of could not have happened when he was in charge.

"There is one other matter I wanted to speak to you about, Mr. Paine," he said.

There was none to speak of left now except in Africa; and they were pessimistic about Africa.

I do not propose to speak in detail of the dinner that followed.


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").


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.