\ˈrēd \
read\ ˈred \; reading\ ˈrē-​diŋ \

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

(2) : understand, comprehend

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 \

Definition of read (Entry 2 of 5)

: instructed by or informed through reading


\ˈrēd \

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 \

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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Examples of read in a Sentence


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.


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

But surely anyone hip enough to subscribe to this newsletter (or read this website version) doesn’t feel that way. Jonathan Jones,, "Cam, AB and Opponents Who Team Up for Summer Workouts," 13 July 2018 Comments sent via email will be read at the meeting, according to ALA. Craig Harris, azcentral, "East Valley charter, subject of Republic investigation, reverses itself after blocking public comment," 14 July 2018 By the time the Voges returned, Latham’s executive committee had read the texts and were reconsidering his resignation offer. Sara Randazzo, WSJ, "The Sexting Scandal That Toppled One of America’s Most Powerful Lawyers," 13 July 2018 Soon afterward, the group organized Mourner’s Kaddish recitals at which the names of dead protesters were read. Abraham Riesman, Daily Intelligencer, "Can the young activists of IfNotNow change the conversation about Israel and the Palestinians, or will their contradictions hold them back?," 12 July 2018 These quirky personal comics are often enigmatic, reading like parables written in an alien tongue. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Steve Ditko, the co-creator of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, is dead.," 7 July 2018 In the first two months of the program, young ER visitors spent more than 80 hours on the iPads, reading more than 430 books, according to Poinciana Medical Center, which is a 76-bed hospital in Kissimmee and part of the HCA hospital chain. Naseem S. Miller,, "Poinciana Medical Center installs iPads in ER waiting room," 14 July 2018 At a very recent meeting of the Massachusetts Medical Society, this gentleman read a paper giving a history of the case, and presented the veritable skull which sustained the injury. Daniel C. Schlenoff, Scientific American, "“Foul Treachery” of Trotsky and Lenin in 1918; Phineas Gage’s Brain in 1868," 13 July 2018 Those who worked with Franklin believed in the power of books and reading as a means to create a better world. Amanda Laugesen, Smithsonian, "This Cold War-Era Publishing House Wanted To Share American Values With the World," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 This 2.5-inch SATA 6Gbps SSD has a maximum sequential read speed of 540MB/s and a maximum write speed of 520 MB/s. Ian Paul, PCWorld, "A 500GB Samsung 850 Evo is $150 today," 21 Aug. 2017 The 2012 iMac has a 128GB SATA SSD—its write speeds are limited by its low capacity, but the read speed is roughly indicative of where SATA SSDs were in 2012. Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica, "Mini-review: How much faster have high-end iMacs gotten in the last 5 years?," 14 June 2017 As mentioned yesterday, The Chicago Tribune catalogued some curious changes with his Facebook results, with a growth in little read postings., "Why Are Cable News Stars Still Paid So Much Money?," 20 Apr. 2017 As mentioned yesterday, The Chicago Tribune catalogued some curious changes with his Facebook results, with a growth in little read postings. The Hive, "Why Are Cable News Stars Still Paid So Much Money?," 20 Apr. 2017 Our results are consistent with read number being proportional to fish numbers, but more work is needed on the precise relationship of eDNA and fish abundance. Mark Stoeckle, Smithsonian, "Scientists Can Tell What Fish Live Where Based On DNA in the Water," 13 Apr. 2017 Reader’s Corner airs Fridays at 6 p.m. and repeats Sundays at 11 a.m. on KBSX 91.5 FM. Bob Kustra And The Reader’s Corner Team, idahostatesman, "Reader’s Corner: How Hollywood Communists shaped an iconic film," 23 June 2017 The driver area is control-focused with an easy-read gauge array and onboard computer screen, which highlights fuel economy, tire pressure, oil life, fuel range and the trip meter. Mark Maynard,, "2018 Chevrolet Equinox: Smaller, more polished and still family functional," 23 June 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The board is expected to have a second read of the policy in August. Lorraine Longhi, azcentral, "Here's who is leading Scottsdale schools in the wake of controversy," 12 July 2018 Lawfare‘s Quinta Jurecic does a close read of the U.S. Supreme Court opinion and dissents in Trump v. Hawaii, aka the Muslim travel ban case. Michelle Weber, Longreads, "The Law Is No Place for Ethics," 6 July 2018 As difficult of a read as that is, the guy on first is not supposed to do anything but return on the line drive to the infield on his side. Ron Richmond For The Oregonian/oregonlive,, "Oregon State baseball squanders opportunities, falls to Arizona State," 29 Apr. 2018 When combined, having multiple reads of the same sequence from the same machine boosted the accuracy above 97 percent. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Pocket-sized DNA reader used to scan entire human genome sequence," 30 Jan. 2018 Great American Read: Wednesday, July 18, at 6:30 p.m. Find out about the read and receive a copy of the list of 100 of Americans' favorite books. Courant Community, "Community News For The Windsor Edition," 10 July 2018 Well worth a read, especially for would-be genealogy sleuths tempted to follow in her footsteps. Sarah Mupo, STAT, "The 39 best health and science books to read this summer," 25 June 2018 While federal restrictions prevent private citizens from owning their own M-1 Abrams, a cover to cover read of the Haynes manual will make anyone familiar with the mainstay of America’s tank fleet. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Check Out This Exhaustively Detailed Manual for the A-10 Warthog," 24 May 2018 Ross The look: The Quebecois accent can sound a little rough to some (read: the French), hence the name of this wine: Chardonneret—the phonetic spelling of the Quebecois pronunciation. Emily Eisen, Bon Appetit, "11 Natural Wines That Taste as Good as They Look," 26 Mar. 2018

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 advise, interpret, read, from Old English rǣdan; akin to Old High German rātan to advise, Sanskrit rādhnoti he achieves, prepares

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Statistics for read

Last Updated

25 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for read

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

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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.)

: a period of time spent reading


\ˈrēd \
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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Comments on read

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


something that serves to warn or remind

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