To reveal or indicate a great deal about someone or something. How you react to challenges speaks volumes about your character. He didn't answer the question directly, but his response speaks volumes. Her choice of dress for the event spoke volumes.
Fig. [for something that is seen] to reveal a great deal of information. The unsightly yard and unpainted house speaks volumes about what kind of people live there.
Be significant, indicate a great deal, as in That house of theirs speaks volumes about their income. This idiom uses volumes in the sense of "the information contained in volumes of books." [c. 1800]
COMMON If something speaks volumes, it gives you a lot of information about the true facts of a situation. What you wear speaks volumes about you. Her background, while speaking volumes about her business skills, could not convince the arts world that she was part of it. Note: In this expression, a `volume' is a book.
speak volumes1 (of a gesture, circumstance, or object) convey a great deal. 2 be good evidence for.
2 1998 New Scientist It was a minor scandal… but it spoke volumes about the world's shifting relationship with its favourite illicit drug.
speak ˈvolumes (about/for somebody/something)show or express a lot about the nature or quality of somebody/something: Her face spoke volumes. You could see how much she had suffered. ♢ The progress he’s made since the operation speaks volumes for his courage.
speak volumes, to
To say a great deal about something, to be very expressive on a subject. In this hyperbolic phrase, what is being said is likened to an entire book. It dates from about 1800 and continues to be current. M. Wilmot used it in a letter of May 3, 1803, “A sentimental story that speaks Volumes in favour of the Count and his Daughter.”
See also: speak