Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun \ˈthred\

Simple Definition of thread

  • : a long, thin piece of cotton, silk, etc., used for sewing

  • : a long, thin line of something

  • : the raised line that winds around a screw

Full Definition of thread

  1. 1a :  a filament, a group of filaments twisted together, or a filamentous length formed by spinning and twisting short textile fibers into a continuous strandb :  a piece of thread

  2. 2a :  any of various natural filaments <the threads of a spiderweb>b :  a slender stream (as of water)c :  a projecting helical rib (as in a fitting or on a pipe) by which parts can be screwed together :  screw thread

  3. 3 :  something continuous or drawn out: asa :  a line of reasoning or train of thought that connects the parts in a sequence (as of ideas or events) <lost the thread of the story>b :  a continuing element <a thread of melancholy marked all his writing> c :  a series of newsgroup messages following a single topic

  4. 4 :  a tenuous or feeble support <hung on by a thread>

  5. 5 plural :  clothing

thread·less play \-ləs\ adjective
thread·like play \-ˌlīk\ adjective

Examples of thread

  1. A thread was hanging from the hem of her coat.

  2. <the unwary bug was snared in the sticky threads of the spider's web>

Origin of thread

Middle English thred, from Old English thrǣd; akin to Old High German drāt wire, Old English thrāwan to cause to twist or turn — more at throw

First Known Use: before 12th century

Rhymes with thread




Simple Definition of thread

  • : to put a thread, string, rope, etc., through a hole in something

  • : to put (film or tape) into a movie camera, tape recorder, etc., so that it is ready to be used

  • : to move forward by turning and going through narrow spaces

Full Definition of thread

  • transitive verb
    1. 1a :  to pass a thread through the eye of (a needle)b :  to arrange a thread, yarn, or lead-in piece in working position for use in (a machine)

    2. 2a (1) :  to pass something through in the manner of a thread <thread a pipe with wire> (2) :  to pass (as a tape, line, or film) into or through something <threaded a fresh roll of film into the camera>b :  to make one's way through or between <threading narrow alleys>; also :  to make one's way usually cautiously through a hazardous situation

    3. 3 :  to put together on or as if on a thread :  string <thread beads>

    4. 4 :  to interweave with or as if with threads :  intersperse <dark hair threaded with silver>

    5. 5 :  to form a screw thread on or in

    6. intransitive verb
    7. 1 :  weave 2 <the car threaded through traffic>

    8. 2 :  to form a thread

    thread·er noun

    Examples of thread

    1. She threaded her shoelace through the holes.

    2. thread film through a camera

    3. They had to thread their way through the crowd.

    4. Waiters threaded through the crowd.

    5. a river that threads through narrow valleys

    14th Century

    First Known Use of thread

    14th century

    Seen and Heard

    What made you want to look up thread? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


    February 10, 2016

    to put in good humor

    Get Word of the Day daily email!


    Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


    Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

    kittly-benders duvet pince-nez spindrift
    Name That Thing

    10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

    SCRABBLE® Sprint

    Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.