speaking


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Related to speaking: speaking in tongues, public speaking

speak a mile a minute

To speak in a very quick or hurried manner; to talk very fast. When the boss gets excited, she starts speaking a mile a minute, and I can never follow everything she's trying to say!
See also: mile, minute, speak

speak by the card

To speak with accuracy and exactness. The "card" in this now-obsolete phrase might have referred to a sea chart, which was considered very precise. I always trust a man who speaks by the card—it inspires great confidence.
See also: card, speak

speak daggers

To speak harshly or maliciously, so as to hurt the listener. I can't stand to be around my mother these days—she's always speaking daggers because she's so miserable. I will speak daggers to my enemy when I see him at the debate.
See also: dagger, speak

speak in circles

To talk about something in an indirect or confusing way that is hard for the listener to follow. As journalists, we need to ask the important questions and keep these politicians from speaking in circles. A: "What's new with Mary?" B: "I have no idea because she spoke in circles the whole time."
See also: circle, speak

speak well for

1. To show support or vouch for someone. I can speak well for Ted, I've known him for years.
2. To act as proof of something. I think she would make a great model—her grace and poise speak well for her.
See also: speak, well

be (not) on speaking terms

To have an amicable, although perhaps guarded or superficial, relationship with someone. This phrase is often used in the negative to show that two people are estranged. It took a long time, but my ex-husband and I are finally on speaking terms these days. After that argument last night, I'm not on speaking terms with Stephanie. I don't know Kyle that well, but we're on speaking terms, and he seems nice enough.
See also: on, speaking, term

speak out of both sides of (one's) mouth

To try to maintain contradictory positions or beliefs in an attempt to please the most people. We all know that you've been speaking out of both sides of your mouth about the merger, so please, just tell us the truth. Will there be layoffs or not? I don't trust that candidate—he still hasn't committed to a clear course of action and is always speaking out of both sides of his mouth.
See also: both, mouth, of, out, side, speak

speak out of turn

To say something erroneous, foolish, or impudent at an inappropriate time, or to speak when one does not have the authority to do so. I hope I'm not speaking out of turn, but I think we'd see a higher profit margin if we took better care of our employees' benefits. If you speak out of turn in my class, you can expect detention!
See also: of, out, speak, turn

be speaking out of both sides of (one's) mouth

To be trying to maintain contradictory positions or beliefs in an attempt to please the most people. We all know that you've been speaking out of both sides of your mouth about the merger, so please, just tell us the truth. Will there be layoffs or not? I don't trust that candidate—he still hasn't committed to a clear course of action and is always speaking out of both sides of his mouth.
See also: both, mouth, of, out, side, speaking

speaking as someone

Having the viewpoint of someone who has experience in, with, or doing something. Speaking as someone who has grown up in severe poverty, I can tell you that food stamps and social welfare are not "the easy option."
See also: speaking

speaking of (something)

With regards to the subject just mentioned. A: "We need to get the tires checked on the car soon." B: "Speaking of cars, there is a great deal on second-hand cars at the dealership down the road." A: "That's my favorite film of all time!" B: "Speaking of, have you heard that they are doing a remake next summer?"
See also: of, speaking

strictly speaking

In the most literal or precise sense. Strictly speaking, we're not supposed to use the lab after hours, but there's really no way to avoid it.
See also: speaking, strictly

speak for itself/themselves

To have a clear meaning or explanation. I think my work these past few months speaks for itself and makes me more than qualified for this position.
See also: itself, speak, themselves

speak too soon

To say something that is soon negated. This phrase is usually used in the past tense, as the negating factor has already happened. A: "Who's screaming at each other upstairs?" B: "Well, I thought we'd get through a normal family dinner, but I guess I spoke too soon!"
See also: soon, speak

in a manner of speaking

In a way; in a sense; so to speak. He was a fixer, in a manner of speaking. A man who could get things done.
See also: manner, of, speaking

on speaking terms

Amicable or friendly with, though perhaps in a guarded or superficial capacity. (Often used in the negative to show that two people are estranged.) A: "You're friends with Jenny, aren't you?" B: "We're on speaking terms, but I wouldn't say we're friends." After that argument last night, I'm not on speaking terms with Stephanie.
See also: on, speaking, term

on speaking terms (with someone)

on friendly terms with someone. (Often with the negative.) I'm not on speaking terms with Mary. We had a serious disagreement. We're not on speaking terms.
See also: on, speaking, term

speak out of turn

Fig. to say something unwise or imprudent; to say something at the wrong time. Excuse me if I'm speaking out of turn, but what you are proposing is quite wrong. Bob was quite honest, even if he was speaking out of turn.
See also: of, out, speak, turn

speaking for oneself

an expression indicating that one is expressing only one's own opinion. Speaking for myself, I am ready to cancel the contract. Sally is speaking for herself. She is not expressing our opinions.
See also: speaking

speaking (quite) candidly

an expression introducing a frank or forthright statement. "speaking quite candidly, I find your behavior a bit offensive," stated Frank, obviously offended. Mary: Tell me what you really think about this skirt. Sally: speaking candidly, I think you should get your money back.
See also: speaking

(speaking) (quite) frankly

 and frankly speaking
a transitional phrase announcing that the speaker is going to talk in a more familiar and totally forthright manner. Tom: Speaking quite frankly, I'm not certain she's the one for the job. Mary: l agree. Bob: We ought to be looking at housing in a lower price bracket. Bill: Quite frankly, lagree. "Frankly speaking," said John, "I think you're out of your mind!"

in a manner of speaking

In a way; so to speak. For example, He was, in a manner of speaking, asked to leave the group. [Late 1800s]
See also: manner, of, speaking

on speaking terms

1. Friendly enough to exchange superficial remarks, as in We're on speaking terms with the new neighbors.
2. Ready and willing to communicate, not alienated or estranged. For example, We are on speaking terms again after the quarrel. Both senses of this idiom commonly occur in the negative, as in Brett and his brother haven't been on speaking terms for years. The idiom was first recorded in 1786.
See also: on, speaking, term

speak too soon

Assume something prematurely, as in I guess I spoke too soon about moving to Boston; I didn't get the job after all.
See also: soon, speak

in a manner of speaking

in some sense; so to speak.
Manner of speaking is recorded from the mid 16th century; compare with French façon de parler , which has been in use in English since the early 19th century.
See also: manner, of, speaking

speak (or talk) out of turn

speak in a tactless or foolish way.
See also: of, out, speak, turn

in a ˌmanner of ˈspeaking

if you think about it in a certain way: ‘Are they married?’ ‘In a manner of speaking — they’ve lived together for 15 years.’
See also: manner, of, speaking

ˈrelatively speaking

used when you are comparing something with all similar things: Relatively speaking, these jobs provide good salaries.
See also: speaking

speak for itˈself/themˈselves

be so clear or obvious that no explanation or comment is needed: The expressions on their faces spoke for themselves — they hated the song.
See also: itself, speak, themselves

speak too ˈsoon

say something, and find afterwards that what you said is not true: ‘I’m glad Simon didn’t come.’ ‘You spoke too soon. Here he comes now.’
See also: soon, speak

be on ˈspeaking terms (with somebody)


1 know somebody well enough to speak to them, perhaps somebody famous or important: He’s on speaking terms with a number of senior politicians.
2 (also be ˈspeaking (to somebody)) be talking to each other again after an argument: Tony and Craig had a big row and are not on speaking terms.You’re lucky I’m still speaking to you after what you did!
See also: on, speaking, term

strictly ˈspeaking

if you are using words or rules in their exact or correct sense: Strictly speaking, nobody under 18 can join this club, but as you are nearly 18...Strictly speaking, a tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable.
See also: speaking, strictly

in a manner of speaking

In a way; so to speak.
See also: manner, of, speaking

on speaking terms

1. Friendly enough to exchange superficial remarks: We're on speaking terms with the new neighbors.
2. Ready and willing to communicate; not alienated or estranged.
See also: on, speaking, term
References in periodicals archive ?
Almost three-fourths (73 percent) of the foreign-born age 25 and over with a bachelor's degree or higher had high English-speaking ability, speaking only English at home or speaking another language at home and speaking English "very well.
The mother's insistence on speaking the HL at home can be contributive of the HL children's adherence to both languages (Kondo, 1998).
And a couple of times, when I wanted to insert the words Naturally Speaking, the software opened the Naturally Speaking menu instead.
Most of the countries in the English speaking Caribbean received their independence in the 1960s.
Instead of representing a "[T]ruth," a "unity" or a "belongingness," a critical use of the self may come to emphasize the "historical conditions" involved in its speaking.
For many people, one of their most common fears is speaking in front of an audience.
First is the ability to form habits through repetition, without which we could not come to automatically associate words with meanings, nor learn complicated physical activities like speaking or playing a musical instrument.
According to recent surveys, many people in America rank speaking in public as one of the greatest fears of their lives.
Intelligent -- often brilliant -- individuals who are able to communicate effectively one-on-one, but fall flat when speaking to groups.
TAKE A COURSE Ideally, sign up for a course in the country that speaks the language that you want to study, For example, sharpen your Spanish speaking skills by taking a course in Spain--even if you're only staying for a week.
But paintings are not mute poems, and poems are not speaking pictures, so misinterpretations of Horace have continually clouded our endless accounts of the relations between poetry and painting.
Others prefer to take more time memorizing, or more time speaking.
I eventually stopped speaking Spanish altogether although my parents and family friends frequently spoke Spanish to me in social settings.
Tom is a speaking subaltern figure whose voice reveals a relatively positive and complex subjectivity, but his death and silencing, which leave the post-war, post-freedom stage to his bourgeois "betters," seems to signal the obsolescence of his type or class.
Unfortunately, this important competence may be belittled by the doctor-candidate, or, worse yet, the prospective manager commits grammatical errors in writing, makes inappropriate use of metaphors in speaking, fails to send thank you notes and acknowledgments, or has unsightly typographical errors in his or her presentation materials.