\ 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 phrase a 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 Please visit this link to read more about this issue. oregonlive, 30 May 2021 Be sure to read instructions for applying any pesticide, and time it properly for effectiveness. Tim Johnson,, 30 May 2021 District officials allowed the class to read the book again after parents were given the chance to opt their children out. Scott Travis,, 30 May 2021 The Marian portions rove from Montana to Manhattan to Scotland and Antarctica, and read like a carnival of early 20th century American history, packed with bootleggers, treacherous boxcar rides, and tragic shipwrecks. Vogue, 29 May 2021 With all fertilizers, be sure to read and follow the application directions since overfeeding your plants can be deadly. Jeanette Marantos, Los Angeles Times, 29 May 2021 Hit play on the podcast player above and read along with the transcript below. USA TODAY, 29 May 2021 While living in Nashville, Tennessee, Mike McKee read a newspaper story about damage caused by out-of-control carts in the hilly city. Karina Bland, The Arizona Republic, 29 May 2021 Friday's contest marks the Wild's first Game 7 since 2014, and columnist Patrick Reusse is a must-read on the team's Game 7 history. Randy Johnson, Star Tribune, 28 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Your LinkedIn About will serve as your first impression and will be the most read version of your bio. William Arruda, Forbes, 13 May 2021 In fact, your LinkedIn About will be the most read version of your bio. William Arruda, Forbes, 6 Apr. 2021 As the opinions of celebrity hosts aimed at a specific audience filled the airwaves, newspaper editorials became less valued and less read. David D. Haynes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3 Mar. 2021 The most read Dear Annie column of the year deals with directives against nonessential travel due to the pandemic. oregonlive, 2 Jan. 2021 The most read piece of 2020, maybe surprisingly, had nothing to do with the pandemic or remote learning. Washington Post, 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,, 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,, 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, 6 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Harrison Bader appeared to lose his read on the ball, lost his footing but somehow managed to make the catch while stretching out on one knee. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12 May 2021 Kendyl has been like a vacuum at short and has really increased her range and improved her read on the ball, while Alexis has been a wall at first base and saved her teammates with some amazing catches, even landing in the splits to make the play. oregonlive, 30 Apr. 2021 My class was looking for our next read when the librarian screamed. Laurie Hertzel, Star Tribune, 30 Apr. 2021 Some analysts critiqued Fields over his tendency to throw to his first or second read as opposed to tracking deeper into his progressions. Nathan Baird, cleveland, 31 Mar. 2021 If this is a concern, parents should consider checking in with teachers or their school’s learning support staff to get their read on the problem and advice for how to move forward. New York Times, 26 Feb. 2021 With about a month of school left, the two still have plenty of read-alouds on their schedule. Brayden Garcia, Dallas News, 10 May 2021 Bharat Biotech of Hyderabad, India, which recently reported an efficacy rate of 81 percent in an interim read-out from a phase 3 trial of its vaccine Covaxin, has lined up a company called Ocugen to act as its US development and commercial partner. Cormac Sheridan, Scientific American, 30 Apr. 2021 In his own Twitter thread announcing the move yesterday, Mars seemed to preempt this read. Nicholas Quah, Vulture, 27 Apr. 2021

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

1 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Read.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for read



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)



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

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



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.

More from Merriam-Webster on read

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for read

Nglish: Translation of read for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of read for Arabic Speakers


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