Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

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

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

put a spoke in (one's) wheel

To disrupt, foil, or cause problems to someone's plan, activity, or project. I had everything in line for the party, but having the caterer cancel on me at the last minute really put a spoke in my wheel. It will really put a spoke in our wheel if the board decides not to increase our funding for this project. You would think the rise of cheap electric cars would put a spoke in Big Oil's wheel, but they actually seem to be embracing the change.
See also: put, spoke, wheel

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

I spoke out of turn.

Fig. I said the wrong thing.; I should not have said what I did. (An apology.) Bill: You said I was the one who did it. Mary: I'm sorry. I spoke out of turn. I was mistaken. Bill: I seem to have said the wrong thing. Bob: You certainly did. Bill: I spoke out of turn, and I'm sorry.
See also: of, out, spoke, turn

I spoke too soon.

1. Fig. I am wrong.; I spoke before I knew the facts. Bill: I know I said I would, but I spoke too soon. Sue: I thought so. John: You said that everything would be all right. Jane: I spoke too soon. That was before I learned that you had been arrested.
2. Fig. What I had said was just now contradicted. Bob: It's beginning to brighten up. I guess it won't rain after all. John: I'm glad to hear that. Bob: Whoops! I spoke too soon. I just felt a raindrop on my cheek. Bill: Thank heavens! Here's John now. Bob: No, that's Fred. Bill: I spoke too soon. He sure looked like John.
See also: soon, spoke

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

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

put a spoke in someone's wheel

mainly BRITISH
If you put a spoke in someone's wheel, you deliberately do something which spoils their plans. She was just jealous of your relationship with Pippa and couldn't resist putting a spoke in your wheel. Note: Cartwheels used to be made of solid wood, with holes in them through which a wooden bar or `spoke' could be pushed in order to make the cart slow down or stop.
See also: put, spoke, wheel

put a spoke in someone's wheel

prevent someone from carrying out a plan. British
It is not clear why a spoke , a normal component of many wheels, should have such a negative effect. It has been suggested that spoke here is a mistranslation of the Dutch word spaak , meaning ‘a bar’ or ‘a stave’, which is found in the identical Dutch idiom.
See also: put, spoke, wheel

speak (or talk) out of turn

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

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

put a ˈspoke in somebody’s wheel

(British English) make it difficult for somebody to do something or to carry out their plans: If the management try to cut our pay, we can put a spoke in their wheel by going on strike. Spoke may be an incorrect translation from Dutch of spaak meaning ‘bar’ or ‘stick’.
See also: put, spoke, wheel


n. lists of jokes, sent from friends via email; joke spam. I don’t know what’s worse, spokes or spam.
See also: spoke
References in classic literature ?
Then the king spoke again in a great voice: "Nay, Mopo, be not so backward; shall I sit warm and see thee suffer cold?
Then he spoke slowly, that the fire might find time to do its work.
Then the king spoke again, "Dost thou swear by my head, Mopo, that no son of mine was suckled in thy kraals?
They all held their peace, but presently Diomed of the loud war-cry spoke, saying, "Let there be no taking, neither treasure, nor yet Helen, for even a child may see that the doom of the Trojans is at hand.
As he spoke he upheld his sceptre in the sight of all the gods, and Idaeus went back to the strong city of Ilius.
Thus did the Achaeans toil, and the gods, seated by the side of Jove the lord of lightning, marvelled at their great work; but Neptune, lord of the earthquake, spoke, saying, "Father Jove, what mortal in the whole world will again take the gods into his counsel?
The Mayor and several other city and state officials spoke before the committee.
I spoke for fifteen or twenty minutes, and was surprised at the close of my address to receive the hearty congratulations of the Georgia committee and of the members of Congress who were present.
She had never in all her life before spoken to any living being so confusedly and so unintelligently as she now spoke to Julian Gray!
He waited--mastering his emotion before he spoke again.
But we soon dropped that subject, and Sir Percival spoke next, in the most unselfish terms, of his engagement with Laura.
You know that she never broke a promise in her life--you know that she entered on this engagement at the beginning of her father's fatal illness, and that he spoke hopefully and happily of her marriage to Sir Percival Glyde on his deathbed.
Surely," I said, "you don't mean to infer that when Sir Percival spoke to you yesterday he speculated on such a result as you have just mentioned?
He spoke rather to himself than to the visitor, but when he had put the lamp upon the table, he took it up, as if impelled by some momentary recollection or curiosity, and held it near his face.
They listened as he spoke again within its silent walls.
Full browser ?