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  • IPA(key): /tɹɛd/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛd

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English treden, from Old English tredan (to tread, step on, trample, traverse, pass over, enter upon, roam through), from Proto-Germanic *tredaną, *trudaną. Cognate with West Frisian trêdzje, Low German treden, Dutch treden, German treten, Danish træde, Swedish träda, Norwegian Bokmål trå, Norwegian Nynorsk trø.


tread (third-person singular simple present treads, present participle treading, simple past trod or tread or treaded, past participle trod or tread or trodden or treaded)

  1. (intransitive) To step or walk (on or over something); to trample.
    He trod back and forth wearily.
    Don't tread on the lawn.
  2. (transitive) To step or walk upon.
    Actors tread the boards.
  3. To beat or press with the feet.
    to tread a path; to tread land when too light; a well-trodden path
  4. To go through or accomplish by walking, dancing, etc.
    • (Can we date this quote by Beaumont and Fletcher and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      I am resolved to forsake Malta, tread a pilgrimage to fair Jerusalem.
    • (Can we date this quote by Shakespeare and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      They have measured many a mile, / To tread a measure with you on this grass.
  5. To crush under the foot; to trample in contempt or hatred; to subdue.
    • (Can we date this quote by Bible and provide title, author's full name, and other details?), Psalms xliv. 5
      Through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us.
  6. (intransitive) To copulate; said of (especially male) birds.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
  7. (transitive, of a male bird) To copulate with.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Chaucer to this entry?)
Usage notesEdit
  • Treaded is not commonly used in the UK and is less common in the US as well. It is apparently used more often in tread water.
  • Tread is sometimes used as a past and past participle, especially in the US.
Derived termsEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English tred, from treden (to tread).


the tread on a car tyre
the sole of a pair of trainers showing the tread
diagram of a set of steps showing the tread

tread (plural treads)

  1. A step.
  2. A manner of stepping.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Tennyson
      She is coming, my own, my sweet; / Were it ever so airy a tread, / My heart would hear her and beat.
  3. (obsolete) A way; a track or path.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
  4. The grooves carved into the face of a tire, used to give the tire traction. [from 1900s]
  5. The grooves on the bottom of a shoe or other footwear, used to give grip or traction.
  6. The horizontal part of a step in a flight of stairs.
  7. The sound made when someone or something is walking.
    • 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde
      The steps fell lightly and oddly, with a certain swing, for all they went so slowly; it was different indeed from the heavy creaking tread of Henry Jekyll. Utterson sighed. "Is there never anything else?" he asked.
    • 1896, Bret Harte, Barker's Luck and Other Stories
      But when, after a singularly heavy tread and the jingle of spurs on the platform, the door flew open to the newcomer, he seemed a realization of our worst expectations.
  8. (biology) The chalaza of a bird's egg; the treadle.
  9. The act of copulation in birds.
  10. (fortification) The top of the banquette, on which soldiers stand to fire over the parapet.
  11. A bruise or abrasion produced on the foot or ankle of a horse that interferes, or strikes its feet together.
  • (horizontal part of a step): run
Derived termsEdit

See alsoEdit