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Spake is the past tense of speak, it is an archaic term that is no longer used except in overwrought poetry and for comic effect. According to Google’s Ngram, the popularity of the word spake soared and dipped through the seventeenth century until its use began a steady drop-off in the eighteenth century. Today, the use of spake is nearly non-existent.

Spoke is the much preferred past tense of speak, related words are speaks, speaking, spoken and the adjective speakable and noun speaker. Speak comes from the Old English specan, a variant of sprecan meaning to speak, utter words, hold discourse with others.


Thus spake Chris Morris’s ludicrously hostile Day Today news anchor, in an attack-dog interview with a woman who’d just raised “a pathetic amount of money” for charity with a jam festival. (The Guardian)

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, ‘All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.’” (Bryan County News)

Thus spake Bhagat SIngh – quotes that inspired a nation (The Deccan Herald)

Thus spake the prophet, and he may have had books about the American Civil War in mind. (The Weekly Standard)

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (The Union Daily Times)

The words he spake on fun’ral day:  “This dead man, Finn, was weak of chin And still weaker in his soul. (The Washington POst)

Take, for example, his painting, “Till We Find the Blessed Isles Where Our Friends Are Dwelling,” whose title is from Nietzsche’s “Thus Spake Zarathustra.” (The Hartford Courant)

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