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

There are deals to be had, but some serious reading of the fine print is required. Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, "The best Black Friday 2018 phone deals at Best Buy, Walmart, and more," 21 Nov. 2018 The researchers carefully shaved the earplugs into their six-monthly layers and then took cortisol readings from each. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Whales are stressed out by climate change, and it shows in their earwax," 16 Nov. 2018 The actor delivered an important, inspiring speech to the audience that's necessary reading. Glamour, "Viola Davis Deserves an Oscar for Her Bold Glamour Women of the Year Speech," 12 Nov. 2018 In between giving moving readings to her clients on Monday's Long Island Medium, Theresa Caputo learned that her daughter, Victoria, was dealing with online bullies. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Long Island Medium' Theresa Caputo Shares Heartbreaking Update About Her Daughter's Bullying," 30 Oct. 2018 Fully wired side tables and reading lights were installed on either side of the bed, so Keltie could stay up late and read. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "This is How TV Personality Keltie Knight Crafted the Bedroom of Her Dreams," 25 Oct. 2018 There’s also storage shelves, two reading lights, a center cabin light, a large skylight, and a pop-up vent to help circulate airflow. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Teardrop trailer features bunkbeds to sleep a family of 4," 23 Oct. 2018 In August, the Philadelphia Fed’s manufacturing survey hit its lowest reading in 21 months, while the Empire State manufacturing index fell in September. Michael Wursthorn, WSJ, "Bull Market’s Latest Hurdle: Slowing Sales Growth," 21 Oct. 2018 There was plenty to do, from corralling the young bridesmaids and pageboys to giving her reading from The Great Gatsby during the ceremony. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Princess Beatrice Wore the Cutest Bee Brooch to Her Sister Eugenie's Wedding," 12 Oct. 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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Statistics for reading

Last Updated

29 Nov 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).


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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