\ˈspred \
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

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Other Words from spread


spreadability \ˌspre-də-ˈbi-lə-tē \ noun
spreadable \ˈspre-də-bəl \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for spread

Synonyms: Verb

branch (out), diverge, divide, fork, part, separate

Synonyms: Noun

breadth, distance, expanse, expansion, extent, field, length, plain, reach, sheet, stretch, waste

Antonyms: Verb

converge, join

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Examples of spread in a Sentence


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.


She offered crackers and a cheese spread. He uses low-fat spread on his toast.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Bee viruses and other pathogens can be spread among hives, some carried by mites. Kevin Davenport, idahostatesman, "Why are these 250,000 bees hanging out on this sweet Downtown Boise rooftop?," 11 July 2018 Thank God for kind people that want to spread happiness. Gerrad Hall, EW.com, "Tiffany Haddish is crying over this gift from Tyler Perry," 6 July 2018 The first major challenge the team faces is a large group of enemies that include snipers, turrets and elite troops, requiring the different Javelin types to spread out and work together to take them down. Patrick Shanley, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Anthem' Producer Promises Game Will Offer a "Totally Different Experience" Every Time It's Played," 5 July 2018 And cases of sound attacks appear to be spreading to additional diplomatic stations throughout the country. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Brain injury, sound-attack fears spread in China as more Americans evacuated," 2 July 2018 Then there’s spreading the fertilizer, cleaning out the shed, cleaning the buckets and getting the credit card machines set up in the fields — which can be tricky as reception is spotty. Annie Alleman, Lake County News-Sun, "Blueberry, raspberry picking season is almost here," 27 June 2018 Jasmine used social media to spread the word, posting frequently throughout the day, which eventually caught the eye of TV producers. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "How HGTV's Jasmine Roth Turned Her Hobby Into A Full-Blown Empire," 26 June 2018 Inside, there are only two wooden chairs, a narrow counter by the window for standing, and three leather ottomans outside, so there’s not a lot of room to spread. Bon Appetit, "Burrow," 25 June 2018 The hashtag was used to spread stories -- many of them with outrageous details -- falsely linking Brown to homophobia. Lisa Respers France, CNN, "Millie Bobby Brown leaves Twitter amid cyberbulling," 14 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Some of the most common culprits in the spread of the disease are cooling towers, humidifiers, hot water tanks and condensers in large air-conditioning units. Zoe Greenberg, New York Times, "Legionnaires’ Disease Sickens 11 in Upper Manhattan," 12 July 2018 In 2013 an official from Human Rights Watch was largely dismissive that Facebook could play a major role in the spread of hate speech. Timothy Mclaughlin, WIRED, "How Facebook’s Rise Fueled Chaos and Confusion in Myanmar," 6 July 2018 Besides triggering bodywide inflammation, hookah use is associated with the spread of infections such as herpes and HPV from several smokers using a single mouthpiece. Houston Chronicle, "Hookah health news from your very own galaxy," 1 July 2018 Loropetalum chinense Purple Pixie®, keeps to a modest height of 1 to 2 feet, with a spread of 4 to 5 feet. Earl Nickel, SFChronicle.com, "Let this ‘Purple Pixie’ bring a little color to the garden," 29 June 2018 In our story on the spread of the large lizards, the Sun Sentinel included iguanas downing power lines and even turning up in toilets. Dan Sweeney, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Share your most unusual iguana tale," 22 June 2018 But state journalists said the goal is to compete with the spread of information from alternative online sources. Andrea Rodriguez, The Christian Science Monitor, "Cuba loosens grip on media, allows for more independent reporting," 21 June 2018 There is legitimate concern these days about the spread of falsified and manipulated imagery. An Xiao Mina, The Atlantic, "That Merkel Photo Is More Like a Meme Than a Renaissance Painting," 11 June 2018 Singapore, arguably the food capital of Asia, is treating journalists to a spread of more than 20 local and international favorites at meal times. Annabelle Liang, Fox News, "Singapore Postcard: Summit a chance to showcase its food," 11 June 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for spread

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for spread

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

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More Definitions for spread



English Language Learners Definition of spread

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to open, arrange, or place (something) over a large area

: to place (things) over a large area

: to become larger or to affect a larger area : to move into more places



English Language Learners Definition of spread (Entry 2 of 2)

: growth or increase that causes something to cover a larger area, affect a larger number of people, etc.

: a soft food that is spread on bread, crackers, etc.

: the total distance between the two outer edges of something


\ˈspred \
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

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Comments on spread

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


one that holds something together

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