read·ing | \ˈrē-diŋ \

Definition of reading 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : the act of reading

2a : material read or for reading

b : extent of material read

3a : a particular version

b : data indicated by an instrument

4a : a particular interpretation of something (such as a law)

b : a particular performance of something (such as a musical work)

5 : an indication of a certain state of affairs a study to get some reading of shoppers' preferences


biographical name
Read·ing | \ˈre-diŋ \

Definition of Reading (Entry 2 of 3)

1st Marquis of 1860-1935 Rufus Daniel Isaacs British statesman; viceroy of India (1921-26)


geographical name
Read·ing | \ˈre-diŋ \

Definition of Reading (Entry 3 of 3)

1 town in eastern Massachusetts north of Boston population 24,747

2 city on the Schuylkill River in southeastern Pennsylvania population 88,082

3 town on the Thames River in southern England that is the capital of Berkshire population 219,000

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Synonyms for reading

Synonyms: Noun

assignment, lesson

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Examples of reading in a Sentence


The family attended the reading of her will. The speech ended with a reading from his latest novel. After several readings, I finally understood the meaning of the poem. He needs help in reading. The teacher gave us a list of books for further reading on the subject. He has done a lot of reading on this subject. The reading for today is about human cloning. Moby-Dick is required reading for any scholar of 19th-century American literature. The pastor selected a reading for tonight's service.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Who Is Vera Kelly? makes for light reading, but of a kind that proves sly, brisk, and charming – with a woman as protagonist. Rayyan Al-shawaf,, "'Who Is Vera Kelly?' by Rosalie Knecht: Brainy, endearing bisexual spy," 13 July 2018 Books are great, of course, but opportunities for reading are almost everywhere. Mary Caldwell, ajc, "It’s in a book: 5 best ways to help your early reader," 27 June 2018 The readings were not official measurements made with an actual thermometer, but were estimates made by instruments aboard an orbiting satellite. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "The coldest place on Earth is even colder than we thought: Antarctic temps hit 144 degrees below zero," 26 June 2018 Summer reading is something that keeps them steady. Dennis Hohenberger, Courant Community, "Library Kicks Off Summer Reading With Festival," 26 June 2018 The reading at John Still K-8 School in Meadowview was just blocks away from where two officers shot and killed Stephon Clark in March. Cassie Dickman And Molly Sullivan, sacbee, "Children's book about police shootings comes to schools in Stephon Clark's neighborhood," 19 June 2018 The cynical reading is that this is the ultimate commodification of a relationship, or love as product. Jonny Coleman, The Hollywood Reporter, "Critic's Notebook: Beyonce Makes Jay-Z Better on Surprise Couples-Therapy Album 'Everything Is Love'," 18 June 2018 Of all divination practices, palm reading, also known as chiromancy or palmistry, is one of the most highly regarded. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "A Beginner's Guide to Reading Palms," 4 June 2018 The reading is part of Opal Theatre Company’s official launch as a non-profit theatre in Boise. Michelle Jenkins, idahostatesman, "June rocks with Alive After Five, family festivals and free movie nights | Idaho Statesman," 26 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reading.' 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 reading


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Learn More about reading

Phrases Related to reading

light reading

poetry reading

required reading

Statistics for reading

Last Updated

20 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for reading

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

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More Definitions for reading



English Language Learners Definition of reading

: the act of reading something

: the activity of reading a book, magazine, etc.

: a book, article, etc., that is being read or that is intended to be read


read·ing | \ˈrē-diŋ\

Kids Definition of reading

1 : the act of reading a poetry reading

2 : something read or available to be read

3 : the number or fact shown on an instrument Take a reading from the thermometer.

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Comments on reading

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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