1. (UK Und.) to hold up; to rob; to steal.
|New Canting Dict. n.p.: I will never Speak with any thing but Wedge or Cloy; I’ll never steal, or have to do with any thing but Plate, or Money, &c.|
|Beggar’s Opera II ii: I drink a Dram now and then with the Stage-Coachmen [...] I know that about this Time there will be Passengers upon the Western Road, who are worth speaking with.|
|, , ,||Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. n.p.: To speak with, to steal.|
|(con. 1710–25) Tyburn Chronicle II in (1999) xxviii: To speak To steal.|
|, ,||Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: speak with to rob; (cant) I spoke with the cull on the cherry coloured prancer, I robbed the man on the black horse.|
|Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].|
|Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 267: speak to to speak to a person or place is to rob them, and to speak to any article, is to steal it ; as, I spoke to the cove for his montra; I robb’d the gentleman of his watch. I spoke to that crib for all the wedge; I robb’d that house of all the plate. I spoke to a chest of slop; I stole a chest of tea. A thief will say to his pall who has been attempting any robbery, ‘Well, did you speak? or, have you spoke?’ meaning, did you get any thing?|
|‘The Song of the Young Prig’ in James Catnach (1878) 171: Speak to the tattler, bag the swag.|
|Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open 125: Spoke with, to rob.|
|Vocabulum 83: speak To steal; to take away. ‘Bob spoke with the toney on the chestnut prancer,’ Bob robbed the fool on the chestnut horse. ‘To speak with,’ to steal from.|
2. (UK Und.) to pass sentence of death.
|Kendal Mercury 17 Apr. 6/1: The judge spoke10 to Tom, who sat like a lord mayor. [note 10] Passed sentence of death.|
3. (Aus.) to select one’s drink.
|Bulletin (Sydney) 14 Aug. 13/113/1: They never say in Cooktown, or in any place near that latitude, ‘Are you going to shout?’ They mildly observe, ‘Did you speak?’.|
|Truth (Sydney) 11 Feb. 7/1: Now, Landlord, I will stand it, just you ask these men to speak.|
SE in slang uses
(UK society) on speaking terms.
|Bulletin (Sydney) 6 Oct. 12/3: Some of the Suffragists and the ‘Antis’ are not playing speaks.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 14 Dec. 18/3: Big Bessie, the barmaid, is not playing speaks / With her ‘boy’ – he is sixty, the sinner!|
|Contemp. Rev. 185: Russia wooden-headedly refused to be ‘on speaks’ with Christian civilised Spain.|
|Quarry ’80–’82 152: On speaks? Of course, why shouldn’t we be?|
see say a mouthful under say v.
see under bandog n.
to get sunburned.
|Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.|
see under French n.
to speak elegant, formal English.
|Merry Wives of Windsor III ii: He writes verses, hee speakes holliday, he smels April and May.|
to speak quietly or indistinctly.
|Proverbs 186: To speak like a mouse in a cheese.|
|,||Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn).|
|Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.|
see under telephone n.
(Irish) to speak Standard English.
|Janey Mack, Me Shirt is Black 132: The words ‘Gawney Mack’ is the swanky way of saying ‘Janey Mack’. You see [...] the word ‘Janey’ would sound downright vulgar when used by people who speak pound notes.|
(mainly Aus.) to speak in an affectionate, friendly manner.
|Bulletin (Sydney) 21 July 44/1: If you’d on’y ha’ spoke pretty to ’im.|
to talk in Standard English, rather than in colloq., dial. or sl., often as an imper.
|DSUE (8th edn) 1201/1: [...] C.20.|
|Roger’s Profanisaurus in Viz 98 Oct. 26: speak Welsh v. Blow chunks; shout soup. To yoff (qv).|
(Can.) used by English speakers, to speak English (as opposed to French, which is the first language of many Canadians, esp. the Québecois).
|Story of Lang. 261: One of the most intolerant linguistic insults on record is the admonition ‘Speak white!’ occasionally used by Canadian English speakers to their French-speaking fellow nationals.|
|Maledicta II:1+2 (Summer/Winter) 170: Speak White! A command uttered by Anglophone Canadians to Francophones, implying that French ancestry is not racially ‘pure.’.|
|Dict. of Invective (1991) 414: white, to speak. To speak like a white man.|