English edit

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Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

From Middle English rode, rade (ride, journey), from Old English rād (riding, hostile incursion), from Proto-West Germanic *raidu, from Proto-Germanic *raidō (a ride), from Proto-Indo-European *reydʰ- (to ride). Doublet of raid, acquired from Scots, and West Frisian reed (paved trail/road, driveway).

The current primary meaning of "street, way for traveling" originated relatively late—Shakespeare seemed to expect his audiences to find it unfamiliar—and probably arose through reinterpretation of roadway "a way for riding on" as saying "way" twice, in other words as a tautological compound.

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

road (plural roads)

  1. A way used for travelling between places, originally one wide enough to allow foot passengers and horses to travel, now (US) usually one surfaced with asphalt or concrete and designed to accommodate many vehicles travelling in both directions. In the UK both senses are heard: a country road is the same as a country lane. [from 16th c.]
    • 1852, Mrs M.A. Thompson, “The Tutor's Daughter”, in Graham's American Monthly Magazine of Literature, Art, and Fashion[1], page 266:
      In the lightness of my heart I sang catches of songs as my horse gayly bore me along the well-remembered road.
    • 1913, Joseph C[rosby] Lincoln, chapter I, in Mr. Pratt’s Patients, New York, N.Y., London: D[aniel] Appleton and Company, →OCLC:
      I stumbled along through the young pines and huckleberry bushes. Pretty soon I struck into a sort of path that, I cal'lated, might lead to the road I was hunting for.
  2. (uncountable) Roads in general as a means of travel, especially by motor vehicle.
    We travelled to the seaside by road.
  3. (dated) A physical way or route.
    • 1855 December – 1857 June, Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit, London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1857, →OCLC:
      He stirred up his hair with his sprightliest expression, glanced at the little figure again, said ‘Good evening, ma ‘am; don’t come down, Mrs Affery, I know the road to the door,’ and steamed out.
    • 1930, Norman Lindsay, Redheap, Sydney, N.S.W.: Ure Smith, published 1965, →OCLC, page 131:
      Hetty and Mrs. Piper watched them with a lynx-eyed understanding and before the ancient was well upon his road his way was blocked by Hetty.
  4. (figuratively) A path chosen, as in life or career. [from 17th c.]
    the road to happiness; the road to success.
    • 1964, Ronald Reagan, A Time for Choosing:
      Where, then, is the road to peace?
    • 2012 September 7, Phil McNulty, “Moldova 0-5 England”, in BBC Sport:
      Hodgson may actually feel England could have scored even more but this was the perfect first step on the road to Rio in 2014 and the ideal platform for the second qualifier against Ukraine at Wembley on Tuesday.
  5. An underground tunnel in a mine. [from 18th c.]
  6. (US, rail transport) A railway or (UK, rail transport) a single railway track. [from 19th c.]
    • 1959 November, “L.T. and E.R. developments in East London”, in Trains Illustrated, page 527:
      The new depot, on which work started in May, 1956, has three reception roads leading to 13 sidings capable of taking 25 trains, a 450 ft.-long car examination shed with nine roads, a lifting shop with two roads and three permanent way sidings.
  7. (obsolete) The act of riding on horseback. [9th–17th c.]
  8. (obsolete) A hostile ride against a particular area; a raid. [9th–19th c.]
  9. (nautical, often in the plural) A partly sheltered area of water near a shore in which vessels may ride at anchor; a roadstead. [from 14th c.]
    • c. 1596–1598 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene i]:
      Antonio: Sweet lady, you have given me life and living; / For here I read for certain that my ships / Are safely come to road.
    • 1630, John Smith, True Travels, Kupperman, published 1988, page 38:
      There delivering their fraught, they went to Scandaroone; rather to view what ships was in the Roade, than any thing else […].
  10. (obsolete) A journey, or stage of a journey.

Usage notes edit

Often used interchangeably with street or other similar words. When usage is distinguished, a road is a route between settlements (reflecting the etymological relation with ride), as in the Great North Road from London to Edinburgh, while a street is a route within a settlement (city or town), strictly speaking, paved.

Hyponyms edit

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

Adjective edit

road (not comparable)

  1. (US, Canada, sports, chiefly attributive) At the venue of the opposing team or competitor; on the road.
  2. (cycling) Of or pertaining to a road bike.
    road tires
    road groupset

Synonyms edit

  • (at the venue of the opposing team or competitor): away (UK)

Anagrams edit

Estonian edit

Noun edit


  1. nominative plural of roog

Swedish edit

Participle edit


  1. past participle of roa

Adjective edit

road (not comparable)

  1. amused, entertained

Declension edit

Inflection of road
Indefinite Positive Comparative Superlative2
Common singular road
Neuter singular roat
Plural roade
Masculine plural3 roade
Definite Positive Comparative Superlative
Masculine singular1 roade
All roade
1) Only used, optionally, to refer to things whose natural gender is masculine.
2) The indefinite superlative forms are only used in the predicative.
3) Dated or archaic

Related terms edit

Anagrams edit