\ ˈrēd How to pronounce read (audio) \
read\ ˈred How to pronounce read (audio) \; reading\ ˈrē-​diŋ How to pronounce read (audio) \

Definition of read

 (Entry 1 of 5)

transitive verb

1a(1) : to receive or take in the sense of (letters, symbols, etc.) especially by sight or touch
(2) : to study the movements of with mental formulation of the communication expressed read lips
(3) : to utter aloud the printed or written words of read them a story
b : to learn from what one has seen or found in writing or printing
c : to deliver aloud by or as if by reading specifically : to utter interpretively
d(1) : to become acquainted with or look over the contents of (something, such as a book)
(2) : to make a study of read law
(3) : to read the works of
e : to check (something, such as copy or proof) for errors
f(1) : to receive and understand (a voice message) by radio
2a : to interpret the meaning or significance of read palms
b : foretell, predict able to read his fortune
3 : to recognize or interpret as if by reading: such as
a : to learn the nature of by observing outward expression or signs reads him like a book
b : to note the action or characteristics of in order to anticipate what will happen a good canoeist reads the rapids a golfer reading a green also : to predict the movement of (a putt) by reading a green
c : to anticipate by observation of an opponent's position or movement read a blitz
4a : to attribute a meaning to (something read) : interpret how do you read this passage
b : to attribute (a meaning) to something read or considered read a nonexistent meaning into her words
5 : to use as a substitute for or in preference to another word or phrase in a particular passage, text, or version read hurry for harry often used to introduce a clarifying substitute for a euphemistic or misleading word or phrasea friendly, read nosy, coworker
6 : indicate the thermometer reads zero
7 : to interpret (a musical work) in performance
8a : to acquire (information) from storage especially : to sense the meaning of (data) in recorded and coded form used of a computer or data processor A compiler is a program that translates instructions written by a human programmer into more specific codes that can be directly read by a computer. — John Markoff
b : to read the coded information on (something, such as a CD) I had a minor problem with the disk drive in that the machine would not read the disk the first time it was powered up each day but had to be turned off and back on again.— Robert Moskowitz

intransitive verb

1a : to perform the act of reading words : read something
b(1) : to learn something by reading
(2) : to pursue a course of study
2a : to yield a particular meaning or impression when read
b : to be readable or read in a particular manner or to a particular degree this book reads smoothly
3 : to consist of specific words, phrases, or other similar elements a passage that reads differently in older versions
read between the lines
: to understand more than is directly stated
read the riot act
1 : to order a mob to disperse
2a : to order or warn to cease something
b : to protest vehemently
c : to reprimand severely
\ ˈred How to pronounce read (audio) \

Definition of read (Entry 2 of 5)

: instructed by or informed through reading


\ ˈrēd How to pronounce read (audio) \

Definition of read (Entry 3 of 5)

1 chiefly British : a period of reading it was a night … for a read and a long sleep— William Sansom
2 : something (such as a book) that is read a novel that's a good read
3 : the action or an instance of reading


biographical name (1)
\ ˈrēd How to pronounce Read (audio) \

Definition of Read (Entry 4 of 5)

George 1733–1798 American statesman in Revolution


biographical name (2)

Definition of Read (Entry 5 of 5)

Sir Herbert 1893–1968 English writer

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Synonyms for read

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of read in a Sentence

Verb She learned to read at a very early age. I can't read your handwriting. He likes reading the newspaper. She reads a lot of mystery novels. She starts work every day by reading her e-mail. Didn't you read the instructions? Please read from Chapter 5 through Chapter 10. He read the poem aloud. He wrote down the address I gave him and read it back to me. Her mother read to her every night at bedtime. Noun He reviewed the book after several reads. She was lying in bed having a peaceful read.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Approximately 2,780 pages of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents detailing the government entity’s findings on unidentified flying objects (UFOs) are now available for anyone to read and download. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, "You Can Now Explore the CIA’s ‘Entire’ Collection of UFO Documents Online," 16 Jan. 2021 Some supporters, having read about his love for stuffed animals, tossed teddy bears at him. Connor Letourneau,, "Why Jeremy Lin turned down millions in China to play for Warriors’ G League team," 15 Jan. 2021 Don’t read this as any sort of statement that it’s now-or-never for this team. Dan Labbe, cleveland, "Playing with house money? It doesn’t sound like it for these Browns," 15 Jan. 2021 At age 22, poet Amanda Gorman, chosen to read at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, already has a history of writing for official occasions. Time, "Poet Amanda Gorman, 22, Will Read at Joe Biden's Inauguration," 15 Jan. 2021 Don’t read too much into it, but don’t ignore the flaws, either. Los Angeles Times, "Kings show promise in season-opening loss, but there is plenty of room for improvement," 15 Jan. 2021 His book is filled with entertaining-to-read and entertaining-to-consider recipes like this one that echo his unstoppably boisterous shows. Kate Krader,, "A Star Chef Breaks the Rules With a One-Hour Bolognese Sauce," 15 Jan. 2021 Yet Gupta, who is CNN’s chief medical correspondent and a practicing neurosurgeon in Atlanta, is quick to tell readers that fear of dementia should not be the reason to read the book, which was published collaboratively with AARP. Washington Post, "Advice for keeping your brain at its best," 15 Jan. 2021 Several nonprofit social service organizations said that save for being given a script to read to people on a phone call, and a link to the same vaccine-finder map that Ms. Engle was struggling with, they had not been consulted. New York Times, "The Maddening Red Tape Facing Older People Who Want the Vaccine," 14 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The most read Dear Annie column of the year deals with directives against nonessential travel due to the pandemic. oregonlive, "Dear Annie brings a fresh perspective to 2020 advice: COVID-related column leads the top 10 list," 2 Jan. 2021 The most read piece of 2020, maybe surprisingly, had nothing to do with the pandemic or remote learning. Washington Post, "Pandemic advice, postpartum realities and bad days: The top 10 parenting stories of 2020," 29 Dec. 2020 Here Cook shifts to the read side instead of going in motion for an arc block, but serves a similar role in forcing the defender to commit inside without impeding the quarterback's vision. Jeff Nowak,, "What's up with Taysom Hill at QB? Separating hot takes from reality after Saints' slow start," 9 Oct. 2020 Smith’s Chevrolet Cruze slammed into the read end of the Waukegan police car, which was stopped on Lewis, near the Ballentine Street intersection. Clifford Ward,, "Zion woman charged with DUI after crashing vehicle into Waukegan police car," 21 Sep. 2020 During the altercation, a black Infiniti was at a read light when the suspect pulled up to it and opened fire. Carol Robinson |, al, "Rickey Smiley’s daughter shot multiple times in Houston," 6 July 2020 What's exciting here is that Samsung claims this drive can achieve a read speed of 1050MB/s and a write speed of 1000MB/s—significantly faster than its predecessor, the T5. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Samsung improves read/write speeds in its biz-card-sized SSDs with the new T7," 20 May 2020 All three can be run in RAID 0 with more than 8GBps of read speed, Asus says. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "No, really: Asus' crazy ROG Mothership is like a Surface Pro for gaming," 6 Jan. 2019 The majority of the at-home test kits use quick-read chemical strips to detect major hazards including lead, some chemicals, some pesticides and bacteria. Debbie Carlson,, "How to buy an at-home water testing kit," 15 Mar. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun That will mean that some athletes will be asked to sit out and will lose valuable playing time and visibility, and, in some cases, even opportunities to participate in drafts based on an inaccurate read. Josh Peter, USA TODAY, "'It saved my kid's life:' Why aren't all college athletes with COVID-19 getting MRI exams?," 31 Dec. 2020 Several articles about Hurricane Isaias were among the most read this year. Tiffini Theisen,, "These were the most-read stories on in 2020," 28 Dec. 2020 On second-and-6 in the second quarter, Dalton gained nine yards around left end on a read option. Dallas News, "10 truths from the Cowboys’ win: Randy Gregory’s signature performance, Kellen Moore’s ruthlessness and more," 28 Dec. 2020 The true read for Tyler in that role will come with Jimmy Butler at full health. Ira Winderman,, "ASK IRA: Are KZ Okpala, Tyler Herro miscast in Heat rotation?," 27 Dec. 2020 While the plot takes a darker turn into thriller territory, this read is ideal for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or dismissed in the workplace. Rachel King, Fortune, "21 books to look forward to in 2021," 26 Dec. 2020 It’s an unconventional thriller, but a highly compelling read nonetheless. Chloe Schama, Vogue, "The Best Books Vogue Editors Read in 2020," 24 Dec. 2020 He's delivered a terrific read, a World War II story told with a skillful, narrow focus. Star Tribune, "Review: 'From These Broken Streets,' by Roland Merullo," 24 Dec. 2020 Philadelphia carved them up with read option plays and quarterback scrambles, rushing for 246 yards against the Saints. Luke Johnson,, "Dalvin Cook's running ability — and the threat of it — present a unique challenge for Saints," 23 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'read.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of read


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a(1)


1586, in the meaning defined above


1825, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for read


Middle English reden "to counsel, order, decide, guide, govern, realize, grasp the meaning of, interpret, explain, teach, look at and understand (written symbols), say aloud (something written)," going back to Old English rǣdan, (non-West Saxon) rēdan "to rule, direct, decide, deliberate, counsel, suppose, guess, expound the meaning of (as a riddle or dream), look at and understand (written symbols), say aloud (something written)," going back to Germanic *rēdan- (whence also Old Frisian rēda "to advise, protect, help, plan, decide," Old Saxon rādan "to consult, guess, take care of, counsel,", Old High German rātan "to advise, deliberate, assist," Old Icelandic ráða "to advise, counsel, decide, determine, plan, rule, explain, interpret," Gothic garedan "to make provision for," fauragarairoþ "[s/he] predestined"), going back to an Indo-European verbal base *(H)reh1dh- "carry through successfully," whence also Sanskrit rādhati "will bring about," rādhnóti "(s/he) achieves, prepares, satisfies," Avestan rādat̰ "will make right"; from a causative *(H)roh1dh-éi̯e-, Gothic rodjan "to speak, talk," Old Icelandic ræða "to speak, converse," Old Irish ráidid "(s/he) speaks, says, tells," imm-rádi "(s/he) thinks, reflects," Welsh adroddaf "(I) utter, say, relate," Old Church Slavic neraždǫ, neraditi "to have no care for, take no heed of" (also neroždǫ, neroditi), radi "for the sake of," Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian ráditi "to work, do," Lithuanian ródyti "to show"

Note: Old English rǣdan was a Class VII strong verb, with evidence of reduplication (past tense reord), though also conjugated as a weak verb; by the Middle English period evidence for strong conjugation is vestigial. The expected outcome of Anglian rēdan would be *reed, reflecting Middle English close long e; the predominance of read, reflecting open long e, is perhaps due to interference from outcomes of Germanic *raidja- (see ready entry 1). This is essentially the conclusion of the Oxford English Dictionary, third edition, which assembles a number of presumed outcomes of *raidja- under a somewhat shadowy verb rede, the inflected forms of which can be difficult to distinguish from redd and rid (see redd entry 1, rid). — As is evident from the number of glosses, the Old and Middle English verbs covered a remarkably broad range of meanings. Those senses not having to do with the act of reading are now mostly represented by the spelling rede in Modern English (see rede). Though the sense "interpret" is evident in Old Norse, adaptation of this verb to refer to visual processing of written language is peculiar to Old English (and hence to Modern English); to express this idea other Germanic languages, excepting Gothic, have adapted, either by inheritance or loan, outcomes of the verb *lesan- "to gather, select," presumably as a calque on Latin legere (see legend). — A confusingly broad spectrum of meanings also characterizes the verb's Indo-European congeners, while the formal similarities are close. The gloss "carry through successfully" for *(H)reh1dh- ("erfolgreich durchführen") in Lexikon der indogermanischen Verben, 2. Ausgabe, applies best only to the Indo-Iranian forms.


from past participle of read entry 1


noun derivative of read entry 1

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Time Traveler for read

Time Traveler

The first known use of read was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Read.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for read


How to pronounce Read (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of read

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: to look at and understand the meaning of letters, words, symbols, etc.
: to read the words of (a book, magazine, etc.)
: to speak aloud the words of (something written)
How to pronounce Read (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of read (Entry 2 of 3)

: having knowledge that has been gained from reading books, articles, etc.


How to pronounce Read (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of read (Entry 3 of 3)

: something (such as a book) that is read
: an act of reading something (such as a book, article, etc.)
chiefly British : a period of time spent reading


\ ˈrēd How to pronounce read (audio) \
read\ ˈred \; reading\ ˈrē-​diŋ \

Kids Definition of read

1 : to understand language through written symbols for speech sounds
2 : to speak aloud written or printed words I read a poem to the class.
3 : to learn from information provided in writing or printing We bought a newspaper to read about the fire.
4 : to discover something about by looking at certain characteristics or behavior read palms On his face I read boredom.
5 : to show by letters or numbers The thermometer reads zero.
6 : to explain what something is … these tracks were … wolves' tracks. Pa read the tracks for Mary …— Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie
7 : to interpret stored data (as on a computer drive or optical disk) The DVD player has to read the disk.

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