\ ˈspred How to pronounce spread (audio) \
spread; spreading

Definition of spread

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to open or expand over a larger area spread out the map
b : to stretch out : extend spread its wings for flight
2a : to distribute over an area spread fertilizer
b : to distribute over a period or among a group spread the work over a few weeks
c : to apply on a surface spread butter on bread
d(1) : to cover or overlay something with spread the cloth on the table
(2) archaic : to cover completely
e(1) : to prepare or furnish for dining : set spread the table
(2) : serve spread the afternoon tea
3a : to make widely known spread the news
b : to extend the range or incidence of spread a disease
c : diffuse, emit flowers spreading their fragrance
4 : to push apart by weight or force

intransitive verb

1a : to become dispersed, distributed, or scattered
b : to become known or disseminated panic spread rapidly
2 : to grow in length or breadth : expand
3 : to move apart (as from pressure or weight) : separate



Definition of spread (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : the act or process of spreading
b : extent of spreading
2 : something spread out: such as
a : a surface area : expanse
b(1) : a ranch or homestead especially in the western U.S.
(2) Western US : a herd of animals
c(1) : a prominent display in a periodical
(2) : two facing pages (as of a newspaper) usually with matter running across the fold also : the matter occupying these pages
3 : something spread on or over a surface: such as
a : a food to be spread (as on bread or crackers) a cheese spread
b : a sumptuous meal : feast
c : a cloth cover for a table or bed
4 : distance between two points : gap
5 : a commodities market transaction in which a participant hedges with simultaneous long and short options in different commodities or different delivery dates in the same commodity

Other Words from spread


spreadability \ ˌspre-​də-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce spread (audio) \ noun
spreadable \ ˈspre-​də-​bəl How to pronounce spread (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for spread

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of spread in a Sentence

Verb The newspaper was spread across his lap. Her notes were spread all over the desk. Help me spread the cloth on the table. We spread fertilizer on our yard. The seeds are spread by wind, birds, and animals. The fire spread quickly through the building. The cancer has spread to her throat. The use of computer technology has spread into all fields of work. The odor spread throughout the room. The fashion quickly spread from France to England. Noun She offered crackers and a cheese spread. He uses low-fat spread on his toast. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb After all, monkeypox is a very rare viral infection that can spread from person-to-person via close contact and could result in severe illness, even death. Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes, 8 May 2022 The last bottles of any variety of Two Warriors mead available via their distributor, PF Importers, sold out about two hours after news of the fire spread. Bonnie Bolden, ajc, 8 May 2022 South Africa’s daily coronavirus test positivity rate neared a record, rising above 30% on Saturday for the first time in almost five months as two sublineages of the omicron variant spread rapidly ahead of the nation’s winter season. Fortune, 7 May 2022 Adenovirus can be spread by droplets when a person coughs or sneezes and also through fecal-oral transmission, Parashar said. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, 7 May 2022 Friday afternoon, not two hours after IndyStar spoke with the Andrettis in the F1 paddock, comments from Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei made during a Bloomberg symposium Friday afternoon spread throughout the paddock. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 7 May 2022 The chance of rain and moisture, which precede an approaching cold front, means the three wildfires burning — the 2 Bravo fire in Broward, and the 2 Alpha and L39 fires in Palm Beach — might not spread much Saturday. Chris Perkins, Sun Sentinel, 7 May 2022 Then there are the direct public health effects: Most human diseases originate with animals, and a growing body of research shows that biodiversity lowers the risk that infectious diseases will spread. Liza Featherstone, The New Republic, 6 May 2022 Stocks continued a sell-off on Friday, capping a volatile week in U.S. markets as fears spread that U.S. interest rate hikes to fight inflation might stall economic growth. CBS News, 6 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The wide spread in the U.S. of a relatively mild strain of the virus likely paid dividends by providing many Americans with some immunity, whether or not they had been vaccinated. The Salt Lake Tribune, 9 May 2022 China's exports slumped in April as efforts to contain spread of the Omicron variant interrupted supply chains. Julia Horowitz, CNN, 9 May 2022 For now the key is to contain the spread of the virus by identifying any possible close contacts and isolating them until doctors can make sure that they are not infected. Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes, 8 May 2022 Beijing logged 62 new cases as authorities in the capital scramble to contain a wider spread. Fortune, 8 May 2022 But none of those falsehoods compares to an epic tale spread by the British government during World War II. Michael Collins, USA TODAY, 8 May 2022 Authorities had warned these tinderbox conditions could lead to rapid wildfire spread and new fire starts throughout the day Sunday and in the following days. Washington Post, 8 May 2022 In 2020, after most movie theaters closed to stem the spread of the coronavirus, movies earned just $176.4 million during the summer period, according to Comscore. Robbie Whelan, WSJ, 8 May 2022 Miami has covered the spread 54 times this year (54-38-1). Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, 7 May 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of spread


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for spread


Middle English spreden, from Old English -sprǣdan; akin to Old High German spreiten to spread

Learn More About spread

Time Traveler for spread

Time Traveler

The first known use of spread was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near spread

spray therapy



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for spread

Last Updated

10 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Spread.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spread. Accessed 19 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for spread


\ ˈspred How to pronounce spread (audio) \
spread; spreading

Kids Definition of spread

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to stretch out : extend I spread my arms wide.
2 : to pass or cause to pass from person to person The news spread rapidly. Flies can spread disease.
3 : to open or arrange over a larger area The captain spread out a map.
4 : to increase in size or occurrence The fire keeps spreading. Cell phone use spread quickly.
5 : to scatter or be scattered spread fertilizer
6 : to give out over a period of time or among a group The boss spread work to make it last.
7 : to put or have a layer of on a surface He spread butter on bread.
8 : to cover something with Mom spread a cloth on the table.
9 : to stretch or move apart I spread my fingers open.
10 : to prepare for a meal : set The table was spread for dinner.



Kids Definition of spread (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act or process of increasing in size, amount, or occurrence the spread of education
2 : the distance between two points that are farthest to each side the spread of a bird's wings
3 : a noticeable display in a magazine or newspaper
4 : a food to be put over the surface of bread or crackers cheese spread
5 : a very fine meal : feast
6 : a cloth cover for a table or bed



Legal Definition of spread

1a : the difference between any two prices for similar articles the spread between the list price and the market price of an article
b : the difference between the highest and lowest prices of a product or security for a given period
c : the difference between bid and asked prices (as of a stock)
2a : a simultaneous put option and call option in which the put price and the call price differ so that no profit is made unless the price falls below or rises above the put or call price respectively by more than enough to cover the cost of the option also : the difference between the put price and call price
b : a transaction in which a participant hedges with simultaneous long and short options in different commodities or different delivery dates in the same commodity
3 : an arbitrage transaction operated by buying and selling simultaneously in two markets when there is an abnormal difference in price between the two markets also : the difference in price
4 : the difference between the yields on investments in fixed-income securities equal in quality but with different maturity dates or with the same maturity dates but unequal quality

More from Merriam-Webster on spread

Nglish: Translation of spread for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spread for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!