v. talked, talk·ing, talks
a. To exchange thoughts or opinions in spoken or sign language; converse: We talked for hours. See Synonyms at speak.
b. To utter or pronounce words: The baby can talk.
c. To imitate the sounds of human speech: The parrot talks.
a. To express one's thoughts or emotions by means of spoken language: The candidate talked about the pros and cons of the issue.
b. To convey one's thoughts in a way other than by spoken words: talk with one's hands.
c. To express one's thoughts or feelings in writing: Voltaire talks about London in this book.
d. Usage Problem To convey information in text: The article talks about the latest fashions.
a. To negotiate with someone; parley: Let's talk instead of fighting.
b. To consult or confer with someone: I talked with the doctor.
4. To spread rumors; gossip: If you do that, people will talk.
5. To allude to something: Are you talking about last week?
6. To reveal information concerning oneself or others, especially under pressure: Has the prisoner talked?
7. Informal To be efficacious: Money talks.
1. To utter or pronounce (words): Their son is talking sentences now.
a. To speak about or discuss (something) or give expression to (something): talk business; talk treason.
b. Used to emphasize the extent or seriousness of something being mentioned: The police found money in the car. We're talking significant amounts of money.
3. To speak or know how to speak (a language or a language variety): The passenger talked French with the flight crew. Can you talk the local dialect?
4. To cause (someone) to be in a certain state or to do something by talking: They talked me into coming.
1. An exchange of ideas or opinions; a conversation: We had a nice talk over lunch.
2. A speech or lecture: He gave a talk on art.
3. Hearsay, rumor, or speculation: There is talk of bankruptcy.
4. A subject of conversation: a musical that is the talk of the town.
5. often talks A conference or negotiation: peace talks.
a. A particular manner of speech: baby talk; honeyed talk.
b. Empty speech or unnecessary discussion: a lot of talk and no action.
c. Jargon or slang: prison talk.
7. Something, such as the sounds of animals, felt to resemble human talk: whale talk.
1. To persuade: I talked them around to my point of view.
2. To speak indirectly about: talked around the subject but never got to the point.
To spend (a period of time) by talking: We talked the night away.
To address (someone) orally with no regard for or interest in a reaction or response.
To make an impertinent or insolent reply.
1. To think or speak of as having little worth; depreciate: talked down the importance of the move.
2. To speak with insulting condescension: talked down to her subordinates.
3. To silence (a person), especially by speaking in a loud and domineering manner.
4. To direct and control (the flight of an aircraft during an approach for landing) by radioed instructions either from the ground or a nearby aircraft.
1. To discuss (a matter) exhaustively: I talked out the problem with a therapist.
2. To resolve or settle by discussion.
3. Chiefly British To block (proposed legislation) by filibustering.
1. To consider thoroughly in conversation; discuss: talked the matter over.
2. To win (someone) over by persuasion: talked them over to our side.
To help (someone) do something by giving instructions as the task is being done.
1. To speak in favor of; promote: talked the candidate up; talked up the new product.
2. To speak loudly in a frank, often insolent manner.
talk big Informal
To speak rationally and coherently.
talk the talk
To speak knowledgeably about something, especially something that one claims or implies one can do well.
[Middle English talken; see del-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: The phrasal verbs talk about and (less commonly) talk of sometimes have a piece of writing as their subject, as in The article talks about the humanitarian crisis in the Sudan and The book talks of continuing barriers to free trade. While this usage might seem a natural semantic extension—no different, really, from the similar and widely accepted use of the word discuss—for many people talk remains primarily associated with speaking, and using it for a written medium violates a norm of standard grammar. The Usage Panel has mixed feelings about this construction. In our 2001 survey, 58 percent accepted it in the sentence The book talks about drugs that exist in many of our communities. Writers who wish to avoid the problem can use discuss or another nonspeaking verb such as argue or maintain instead.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.