\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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 The two hours can be spent in one block or spread out over the entire week to get the shock absorbing benefit. Bryan Robinson, Forbes, "Time Out: 10 Instant Shock Absorbers To Cushion Job Stress," 8 May 2021 Because those charges are so high, utilities will likely spread them across customers’ bills for decades to come; in turn, at least three major utilities have declared bankruptcy from sky-high wholesale power charges. Tim Mcdonnell, Quartz, "The Texas blackouts generated billions in revenue for gas companies," 7 May 2021 Other companies, such as Target, have spread their investments out over a number of years. Fortune, "American companies pledged $50 billion to Black communities. Most of it hasn’t materialized.," 6 May 2021 The vendor companies hire people to charge the scooters each night and spread them out around the city. Katie Galioto, Star Tribune, "Scooters for hire return to St. Paul streets," 5 May 2021 For one thing, Biden wants to expand the federal tax credit that provides for up to $3,600 per eligible child in stimulus checks, spread out over monthly payments (starting this July). Andy Meek, BGR, "Biden’s ‘American Families Plan’ lets the IRS snoop on your bank accounts," 1 May 2021 Add ½ teaspoon of the oil to the skillet, then use a wad of paper towels to spread it into an even film, wiping out any excess. BostonGlobe.com, "Recipes: Sweet brunch treats for Mother’s Day," 30 Apr. 2021 Harrison argued that because she's often spooned large dollops of mayo on burger buns (and then spread it around with the back of said spoon), the theory simply doesn't hold. Michelle Santiago Cortés, refinery29.com, "What’s The Difference Between A Dip, A Sauce, & A Condiment? A Very Serious Investigation," 22 Apr. 2021 Create dough balls and spread them evenly out on a baking sheet, gently flattening them. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, The Arizona Republic, "This mom is a 'loud and proud' cannabis advocate. Here's her THC-infused cookie recipe," 20 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Measures to reduce the spread of the virus will be in place at the facilities, including requiring seniors to wear masks at all times and make appointments to participate in programs, Crowley said. Drake Bentley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee County's five senior centers to reopen as early as May 24," 6 May 2021 Oregon is indefinitely extending a workplace rule adopted last fall that requires employers to adhere to specific safety measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Jamie Goldberg, oregonlive, "Oregon indefinitely extends mask, distancing rules aimed at protecting workers from COVID-19," 5 May 2021 The federal agency says masks are effective at helping reduce the spread of COVID-19, especially indoors, as the virus spreads mainly through respiratory droplets in the air. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, "Businesses cautiously prepare to boost operations as Anchorage lifts most COVID-19 restrictions," 1 May 2021 To reduce the spread of the disease from mice to ticks to humans, research is underway to create technology to vaccinate mice. Brian Whipkey, USA TODAY, "They're back: How to check for ticks and what you should do if you've been bitten," 30 Apr. 2021 Donations Newsom sought for his office were primarily used for public health ads, such as promoting the use of masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Los Angeles Times, "Big donors, bigger winners: Where Newsom sent behested payments," 27 Apr. 2021 The same productivity can typically be achieved with fewer specimens, and doing so will help reduce the spread of pests and fungal issues that can render a season’s work worthless. Chris M. Worrell, cleveland, "Guarantee vigorous veggies with gardening tips from Northeast Ohio pros," 25 Apr. 2021 Christ emphasized the safety of vaccines and said that mask use should continue to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets that can expose unvaccinated people to the virus. Megan Taros, The Arizona Republic, "The push to get vaccinations to underserved residents in southwest Phoenix started with a town hall," 22 Apr. 2021 Wearing a mask can also significantly reduce the spread of the flu virus, according to a 2013 study published in PLOS Pathogens. Megan Marples, CNN, "The pandemic forced us to create habits that benefit the Earth and ourselves. Here's which behaviors to keep," 22 Apr. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Statistics for spread

Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spread.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spread. Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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

Keep scrolling for more

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 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

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
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!