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From Middle English reden, from Old English rǣdan (to counsel, advise, consult; interpret, read), from Proto-Germanic *rēdaną (advise, counsel), from Proto-Indo-European *Hreh₁dʰ- (to arrange). Cognate with Scots rede, red (to advise, counsel, decipher, read), Saterland Frisian räide (to advise, counsel), West Frisian riede (to advise, counsel), Dutch raden (to advise; guess, counsel, rede), German raten (to advise; guess), Danish råde (to advise), Swedish råda (to advise, counsel). The development from ‘advise, interpret’ to ‘interpret letters, read’ is unique to English among Germanic languages. Compare rede.


Noun, and verb's present tense
Verb's past tense and past participle


read (third-person singular simple present reads, present participle reading, simple past read, past participle read or (archaic, dialectal) readen)

A painting of a girl reading.
  1. (transitive or intransitive) To look at and interpret letters or other information that is written.
    have you read this book?;  he doesn’t like to read
    • 1661, John Fell, The Life of the most learned, reverend and pious Dr. H. Hammond
      During the whole time of his abode in the university he generally spent thirteen hours of the day in study; by which assiduity besides an exact dispatch of the whole course of philosophy, he read over in a manner all classic authors that are extant []
    • 1982, Robert M. Evenson, "Liberated" Woman", The Cincinnati Enquirer
      She reads Playgirl magazine, goes to a male-strip joint and then complains about sexual harassment on the job.
  2. (transitive or intransitive) To speak aloud words or other information that is written. Often construed with a to phrase or an indirect object.
    He read us a passage from his new book.
    All right, class, who wants to read next?
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 1, in The Celebrity:
      In the old days, to my commonplace and unobserving mind, he gave no evidences of genius whatsoever. He never read me any of his manuscripts, […], and therefore my lack of detection of his promise may in some degree be pardoned.
    • 1922, Ben Travers, chapter 1, in A Cuckoo in the Nest[1]:
      He read the letter aloud. Sophia listened with the studied air of one for whom, even in these days, a title possessed some surreptitious allurement. []
  3. (transitive) To interpret or infer a meaning, significance, thought, intention, etc.
    She read my mind and promptly rose to get me a glass of water.
    I can read his feelings in his face.
  4. To consist of certain text.
    On the door hung a sign that reads "No admittance".
    The passage reads differently in the earlier manuscripts.
  5. (intransitive) Of text, etc., to be interpreted or read in a particular way.
    Arabic reads right to left.
    That sentence reads strangely.
  6. (transitive) To substitute (a corrected piece of text in place of an erroneous one); used to introduce an emendation of a text.
    • 1832, John Lemprière et al., Bibliotheca classica, Seventh Edition, W. E. Dean, page 263:
      In Livy, it is nearly certain that for Pylleon we should read Pteleon, as this place is mentioned in connection with Antron.
  7. (informal, usually ironic) Used after a euphemism to introduce the intended, more blunt meaning of a term.
    • 2009, Suzee Vlk et al., The GRE Test for Dummies, Sixth Edition, Wiley Publishing, →ISBN, page 191:
      Eliminate illogical (read: stupid) answer choices.
  8. (transitive, telecommunications) To be able to hear what another person is saying over a radio connection.
    Do you read me?
  9. (transitive, Commonwealth of Nations except Scotland) To make a special study of, as by perusing textbooks.
    I am reading theology at university.
  10. (computing, transitive) To fetch data from (a storage medium, etc.).
    to read a hard disk; to read a port; to read the keyboard
  11. (obsolete) To think, believe; to consider (that).
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, II.i:
      But now, faire Ladie, comfort to you make, / And read [] / That short reuenge the man may ouertake []
  12. (obsolete) To advise; to counsel. See rede.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Tyndale
      Therefore, I read thee, get to God's word, and thereby try all doctrine.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, London: William Ponsonbie, Book 1, Canto 1, p. 6,[2]
      This is the wandring wood, this Errours den,
      A monster vile, whom God and man does hate:
      Therefore I read beware.
  13. (obsolete) To tell; to declare; to recite.
  14. (transitive, transgender) To recognise (someone) as being transgender.
    Every time I go outside, I worry that someone will read me.
  15. (at first especially in the black LGBT community) To call attention to the flaws of (someone) in either a playful, a taunting, or an insulting way.
    • 1997, Framing Culture: Africanism, Sexuality and Performance, page 186 (also discussing Paris is Burning):
      Snapping, we are told, comes from reading, or exposing hidden flaws in a person's life, and out of reading comes shade []
    • 2003, Philip Auslander, Performance: Media and technology, page 179:
      CB [a black gay person being quoted]: "So, one time I read him and we were standing downstairs at the front desk in the dorm and I read him and there was this little bell [] ." In the first example, the interviewee [CB] used snapping to read his white friend in a playful way, [] .
    • 2013, Queer Looks, page 114 (discussing Paris is Burning and "the ball world"):
      [One] assumes that such language contests are racially motivated—black folks talking back to white folks. However, the ball world makes it clear that blacks can read each other too.
  16. past tense of read
  17. past participle of read

Usage notesEdit

  • When “read” is used transitively with an author’s name as the object, it generally means “to look at writing(s) by (the specified person)” (rather than “to recognise (the specified person) as transgender”). Example: “I am going to read Milton before I read His Dark Materials, so I know what His Dark Materials is responding to.”



  • (to be recognised as transgender): pass

Derived termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


read (plural reads)

  1. A reading or an act of reading, especially an actor's part of a play.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Furnivall
      One newswoman here lets magazines for a penny a read.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Philip Larkin, Self's the Man
      And when he finishes supper / Planning to have a read at the evening paper / It's Put a screw in this wall—/ He has no time at all []
    • 2006, MySQL administrator's guide and language reference (page 393)
      In other words, the system can do 1200 reads per second with no writes, the average write is twice as slow as the average read, and the relationship is linear.
  2. (at first especially in the black LGBT community) An instance of reading (calling attention to someone's flaws; a taunt or insult).
    • 1997, Framing Culture: Africanism, Sexuality and Performance, page 186 (also discussing Paris is Burning):
      [As] Corey points out, "if you and I are both black queens then we can't call each other black queens because that's not a read. That's a [fact]."
    • 2003, Philip Auslander, Performance: Media and technology, page 185:
      Like most African-American women, Pearlie Mae uses snapping in many of the same ways that black gay men use it: to accentuate a read.
    • 2013, Queer Looks, page 114 (discussing Paris is Burning and "the ball world"):
      As Miss Dorian explains it, for two black queens to call one another "black queens" is "not a read, but a fact."
    • 2013, bell hooks, Teaching Critical Thinking: Practical Wisdom →ISBN:
      I learned that it was acceptable to be witty, especially if you were one of the wearblackallthetime, deconstructivist, radical, feministbitchydiva girls who could give a harsh read (i.e., critique) or throw shade [] .
  3. (in combination) That which is to be read
    His thrillers are always a gripping read.

Derived termsEdit


See alsoEdit

Pages starting with "read".


Old EnglishEdit


From Proto-Germanic *raudaz, from Proto-Indo-European *h₁rowdʰós < *h₁rewdʰ-.

Germanic cognates: Old Frisian rād (West Frisian read), Old Saxon rōd (Low German root, rod), Dutch rood, Old High German rōt (German rot), Old Norse rauðr (Danish rød, Swedish röd, Icelandic rauður), Gothic 𐍂𐌰𐌿𐌸𐍃 (rauþs).

Indo-European cognates: Ancient Greek ἐρυθρός (eruthrós), Latin ruber, Old Irish rúad, Lithuanian raũdas, Russian рудой (rudoj).




  1. red


Weak Strong
case singular plural case singular plural
m n f m n f m n f
nominative rēada rēade rēade rēadan nom. rēad rēade rēad rēada, -e
accusative rēadan rēade rēadan acc. rēadne rēad rēade rēade rēad rēada, -e
genitive rēadan rēadra, rēadena gen. rēades rēades rēadre rēadra
dative rēadan rēadum dat. rēadum rēadum rēadre rēadum
instrumental rēade

Derived termsEdit





  1. past participle of rea.

West FrisianEdit