Meaning of TALK in English


I. talk 1 S1 W1 /tɔːk $ tɒːk/ BrE AmE verb

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ talk , talks, ↑ talker ; verb : ↑ talk ; adjective : ↑ talkative ]

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Origin: Probably from Old English talian 'to count, consider, tell' ]

1 . CONVERSATION [intransitive] to say things to someone as part of a conversation:

I could hear Sarah and Andy talking in the next room.

talk about

English people love to talk about the weather.

All through the afternoon, they sat and talked about their trip.

talk to

She spent a long time talking to him.

She’s very easy to talk to.

talk with

I got the truth from talking with Elena.

talk together

They were talking together in the hall.

Sue and Bob still aren’t talking (=are refusing to talk to each other) .

talk in a low voice/a whisper etc

They were talking in low voices, and I couldn’t catch what they were saying.

talk of (=used especially in formal or literary contexts)

We talked of old times.

2 . SERIOUS SUBJECT [intransitive] to discuss something serious or important with someone:

Joe, we need to talk.

Is there somewhere we can talk in private?

talk to

You should talk to a lawyer.

talk about

We’ve been talking about getting married.

talk with

Parents should talk with their children about drug abuse.

talk sport/politics/business etc

‘Let’s not talk politics now,’ said Hugh impatiently.


In written English, people usually say that they are going to discuss , deal with , or address a subject rather than talk about it:

In this essay I will discuss the problem of over-population.

3 . SAY WORDS [intransitive] to produce words and express thoughts, opinions, ideas etc:

She was talking so fast I could hardly understand her.

How do babies learn to talk?

Some residents were frightened to talk publicly.

talk (in) French/German etc

They started talking in Spanish.

Don’t let Dad hear you talking like that (=expressing things in a particular way) .

4 . A SPEECH [intransitive] to give a speech

talk on/about

Professor Davis will talk about ‘Trends in Network Computing’.

5 . SECRET INFORMATION [intransitive] if someone who has secret information talks, they tell someone else about it:

Even under torture, Maskell refused to talk.

He tried to stop his ex-wife from talking on live TV.

We should stop meeting like this. People will talk.

6 . talk sense/rubbish/nonsense etc especially British English spoken used to say that you think someone is saying something sensible, something stupid etc:

You do talk rubbish sometimes, Jules.

7 . talk (some) sense into somebody to persuade someone to behave sensibly:

She hoped Father McCormack would be able to talk some sense into her son.

8 . talk to yourself to say your thoughts out loud:

‘What did you say?’ ‘Sorry, I was just talking to myself.’

9 . know what you are talking about spoken to know a lot about a particular subject:

I worked in hotels for years, so I know what I’m talking about.

10 . talk the hind leg(s) off a donkey informal to talk a lot, especially about unimportant things

11 . talk about lazy/cheap/hungry etc spoken used to emphasize that someone or something is very lazy, cheap, hungry etc:

Talk about lucky. That’s the second time he’s won this week!

12 . talking of/about something spoken used to say more about a subject that someone has just mentioned:

Talking of Venice, have you seen the masks I bought there last year?

13 . what are you talking about? spoken used when you think what someone has said is stupid or wrong:

What are you talking about? We got there in plenty of time.

14 . I’m talking to you! spoken used when you are angry that the person you are talking to is not paying attention:

Rob! I’m talking to you!

15 . be like talking to a brick wall spoken used to say that it is annoying to speak to someone because they do not pay attention to you

16 . talk sb’s ear off American English spoken to talk too much to someone

17 . talk trash American English informal to say rude or offensive things to or about someone, especially to opponents in a sports competition:

Both teams were talking trash on the court.

18 . talk the talk American English informal to say the things that people expect or think are necessary in a particular situation:

She didn’t talk the talk of feminism, but her career was the most important thing in her life.

⇨ walk the walk at ↑ walk 1 (12)

19 . I’m/we’re/you’re talking (about) something spoken used in conversation to emphasize a fact or remind someone of it:

I’m not talking about ancient history, I’m talking about last season’s performance.

20 . now you’re talking spoken used to say that you think someone’s suggestion is a good idea:

‘Fancy an ice cream?’ ‘Now you’re talking.’

21 . look who’s talking, you’re a fine one to talk , you can talk spoken used to tell someone they should not criticize someone else’s behaviour because their own behaviour is just as bad:

‘Peggy shouldn’t smoke so much.’ ‘Look who’s talking!’

22 . we’re/you’re talking £500/three days etc spoken used to tell someone how much something will cost, how long something will take to do etc:

To do a proper job, you’re talking £750 minimum.

23 . talk your way out of something informal to escape from a bad or embarrassing situation by giving explanations, excuses etc:

She’s good at talking her way out of trouble.

24 . talk nineteen to the dozen British English informal , talk a blue streak American English informal to talk very quickly without stopping

25 . talk in riddles to deliberately talk in a strange and confusing way:

Stop talking in riddles and explain what’s going on.

26 . talk tough (on something) informal to give people your opinions very strongly:

The President is talking tough on crime.

27 . talk shop if people talk shop, they talk about their work when there are people present who are not interested or involved in it – used to show disapproval:

Are you two going to talk shop all night?

28 . talk dirty (to somebody) informal to talk in a sexual way to someone in order to make them feel sexually excited

29 . be talking through your hat British English informal if someone is talking through their hat, they say stupid things about something that they do not understand

30 . talk smack American English informal to criticize someone or something in an unpleasant way

31 . talk to the hand spoken informal used to tell someone rudely that you do not want to listen to anything he or she is going to say to you. When people use this expression, they also usually turn their face away from the other person and hold the ↑ palm of their hand out towards them.

• • •


▪ talk to use words to communicate with someone about something:

I need to talk to you about your work.


She always enjoyed talking to Jim.


Can we talk?

▪ speak to talk. Speak is a little more formal than talk . You often use it when saying that someone speaks in a particular way, or that you will speak to someone in order to try to get something done. You only use speak when saying that someone speaks a language:

He spoke with confidence and authority.


She was speaking quietly so she didn’t disturb anyone.


I’d like to speak to the manager.


Do you speak German?

▪ go on/drone on/ramble to talk too much or for too long about something, in a way that makes people bored:

He went on about how great the team was.


I’d better stop rambling and let you get on with your work.

▪ waffle /ˈwɒf ə l $ ˈwɑː-/ British English disapproving informal to talk using a lot of words but without saying anything important:

I wish he would stop waffling and get to the point!

▪ prattle on disapproving informal to talk continuously about silly and unimportant things:

She prattled on about her boyfriend for the entire journey.


What’s he prattling on about now?

■ to talk about everyday things

▪ have a conversation to talk to someone for a long time about everyday things:

She was having a conversation with one of her friends.


When I arrived, Joe and Jane were deep in conversation (=very involved in a conversation) .


I can order food in a restaurant in French, but not have a conversation.

▪ chat/have a chat informal to have a friendly informal conversation about things that are not very important:

The girls were chatting outside the house.


It’s been nice having a chat with you.

▪ gossip to talk about other people’s private lives when they are not there, especially about things that you have heard, which are not completely true:

What are you two gossiping about?

▪ visit with somebody American English informal to have a conversation with someone:

I visited with him last week.

▪ converse formal to have a conversation with someone:

We met once and conversed briefly.

■ to talk seriously

▪ discuss to talk seriously about problems, ideas, or plans:

They met to discuss how the building should be designed.


She refuses to discuss the matter.

▪ talk something over to discuss something with someone because it will affect them, especially someone close to you:

Before you accept the job, talk it over with your family.


You two need to sit down and talk things over.

▪ debate to discuss a subject formally when you are trying to make a decision or solve a problem:

The issue will be debated on Tuesday.


The UN Security Council debated whether to impose sanctions.

talk around/round phrasal verb British English

1 . talk somebody around/round to persuade someone to change their opinion about something:

Leave Betty to me. I’ll soon talk her round.

2 . talk around/round something to discuss a problem without really dealing with the important parts of it:

They had spent half the night talking round the subject.

talk back phrasal verb

to answer someone in authority such as a teacher or parent in a rude or impolite way

talk somebody/something ↔ down phrasal verb

1 . British English to make something seem less successful, interesting, good etc than it really is:

the pessimists who are talking down Britain

2 . to help a ↑ pilot land an aircraft by giving them instructions from the ground by radio

talk down to somebody phrasal verb

to talk to someone as if they are stupid, although they are not SYN patronize :

The students felt that they were talked down to as though they were children.

talk somebody into something phrasal verb

to persuade someone to do something

talk somebody into doing something

My husband talked me into going skiing.

talk something ↔ out phrasal verb informal

1 . to discuss a problem thoroughly in order to solve it:

We need to spend a little time talking this out.

talk something ↔ out with

It might help if you talked it out with Dad.

2 . British English if politicians talk out a proposal, they talk about it for a long time deliberately so that there will not be enough time to vote on it SYN filibuster :

The Land Protection Bill was talked out by MPs from rural areas.

talk somebody out of something phrasal verb

to persuade someone not to do something

talk somebody out of doing something

Can’t you talk them out of selling the house?

talk something ↔ over phrasal verb

to discuss a problem with someone before deciding what to do

talk something ↔ over with

Talk over any worries with your GP.

talk through something phrasal verb

1 . talk something ↔ through to discuss something thoroughly so that you are sure you understand it:

Allow time to talk through any areas of difficulty.

2 . talk somebody through something to help someone understand a process, method etc by explaining it to them carefully before they use it:

Trevor talked me through loading the software.

talk something ↔ up phrasal verb

to make something appear more important, interesting, successful etc than it really is:

Jones talked up the idea at the meeting.

II. talk 2 S1 W1 BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ talk , talks, ↑ talker ; verb : ↑ talk ; adjective : ↑ talkative ]

1 . CONVERSATION [countable] a conversation:

After a long talk, we decided on divorce.

John, I’d like to have a talk with you.

talk about

We must have a talk about money.

2 . DISCUSSION talks [plural] formal discussions between governments, organizations etc

peace/trade etc talks

The peace talks look promising.

The president held talks with Chinese officials.

talks with

Talks with the rebels have failed.

3 . SPEECH [countable] a speech:

an entertaining talk

talk on/about

a talk on local history

give/do/deliver a talk

Dr. Howard will give a talk on herbal medicine.

4 . NEWS [uncountable] information or news that people talk about and hear about a lot, but that is not official

talk of

Tickets sold so quickly there’s talk of a second concert.

talk of doing something

the administration’s talk of reducing weapons

talk that

There’s talk that she’s difficult to work with.

just/only talk

It’s just talk. He’ll never do it.

5 . TYPE OF CONVERSATION [uncountable] type of conversation:

That’s enough of that kind of talk.

persuasive sales talk

That’s fighting talk (=brave and confident words) from Italy’s manager.

6 . be all talk spoken someone who is all talk talks a lot about what they intend to do, but never actually does it

7 . be the talk of the town/Paris etc someone who is the talk of the town has done something bad, shocking, exciting etc and everyone is talking about them:

She’s the talk of London’s theatre-goers since her last performance.

8 . talk is cheap used to say that you do not believe someone will do what they say

⇨ ↑ pep talk , ↑ small talk , ⇨ idle talk at ↑ idle 1 (2), ⇨ pillow talk at ↑ pillow 1 (3)

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ verbs

▪ have a talk

I must have a talk with Frank before I leave.

■ adjectives

▪ a long talk

I had a long talk with Nora this morning.

▪ a little talk

I’m glad we’ve had this little talk.

▪ a serious talk

Before she went to college, her father sat her down for a serious talk.

▪ a quiet/private talk

She asked if she could have a private talk.

▪ a good talk (=a long talk about important or interesting things)

She was upset, but we’ve had a good talk and things are okay now.

▪ a nice talk

We all had lunch together and a nice talk.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)

■ verbs

▪ have/hold talks

He called on the rebels to hold talks with the government.

▪ enter into talks (=start having talks)

The Ambassador stated that France was prepared to enter into talks on the issue.

▪ talks begin

Talks began in October and Venezuela said it expects an agreement to be signed soon.

▪ talks continue/are underway

Talks will continue through the weekend.

▪ talks break down/collapse (=stop because of disagreement)

Talks broke down today between the Russian and Japanese delegations.

▪ talks resume/are resumed

Talks resumed in Geneva on April 19 after a month’s break.

▪ talks end

The talks ended without a settlement being reached.


▪ peace talks

All four Arab delegations walked out of the Middle East peace talks yesterday.

▪ trade talks

Trade talks between the EU and the Americans have once again collapsed.

▪ high-level talks (=involving important people)

The announcement came after a morning of high-level talks.

▪ budget talks

The dollar fell as U.S. budget talks appeared unlikely to produce an agreement.

▪ direct talks

The President declared that he was now prepared to enter into direct talks with the rebels.

▪ bilateral talks (=involving two groups or countries)

Bilateral talks led to the resumption of diplomatic relations.

▪ round-table talks (=when everyone can discuss things in an equal way)

An election law, agreed during round-table talks, gave every voter the right to two votes.

▪ urgent talks

The Prime Minister called ministers together for urgent talks.

▪ crisis talks (=talks to stop a situation getting worse or more dangerous)

The unions will hold crisis talks with the company in a bid to save jobs.

■ phrases

▪ a round of talks (=a series of talks that is part of a longer process)

A third round of talks was held in May.

▪ the breakdown/collapse of talks

The collapse of the talks sent shock waves round the world.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.