\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

Two bedrooms boast spacious bathrooms, and the 2,149 square foot space ensures plenty of room to spread out. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Modern artist’s retreat in the desert asks $690K," 26 Nov. 2018 From here, press against the resistance band to spread your legs apart again into a V. Press your legs back together and then slowly lift them back up. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "Naomi Campbell Trains While She Travels With This One Versatile Core Move," 23 Nov. 2018 The deals attempted to persuade consumers to shop early as a way to spread out the delivery congestion following the Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Holly Shively, The Seattle Times, "Major bump in online shopping could lead to holiday shipping delays," 20 Nov. 2018 One promising approach is to spread out the essential genes across the bacteria’s entire genome, rather than clustering them all in one place. Jonathon Keats, Discover Magazine, "Bacteria That Eat Drugs Could Help Solve the Antibiotic Resistance Crisis," 8 Nov. 2018 Mayowa Nicholas, Kate Grigorieva and even Gigi Hadid were unable to spread their wings last year but Nicholas and Hadid are confirmed to walk this year's show. Chrissy Rutherford, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Victoria Secret Show Is Returning to New York City," 17 Sep. 2018 The ions then begin to spread into shoes at two possible modes, going five and seven hours respectively. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Here Is the Gadget to Blast the Stink Out of Your Shoes," 9 Aug. 2018 The Eagles will continue to spread opposing defenses with sets of four and five wide receivers, flinging the ball to each and every one of them. Rick Armstrong, Aurora Beacon-News, "Air apparent: Aurora Christian coaches grooming sophomore Ethan Hampton to power passing attack," 14 July 2018 During many of the market’s recent selloffs, analysts have said early-day weakness in the technology sector has quickly spread to other industries. Amrith Ramkumar, WSJ, "With Apple Near a Bear Market, Stocks Lack a Clear Leader," 18 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The move marked a further narrowing in the spread between U.S. 10-year and two-year Treasurys to just 0.14%, the slimmest gap in more than a decade as investors signaled their lingering concerns over slowing economic growth. David Hodari, WSJ, "Global Stocks Waver as Treasury Yields Decline," 4 Dec. 2018 Also, experts haven’t yet documented any cases in which someone has actually gotten sick from a pathogen that a cockroach spread, whereas people get sick every day from pathogens spread by other humans. Rob Dunn, Discover Magazine, "Our Attempts to Eradicate Insects are Just Making them Resistant to Pesticides," 16 Nov. 2018 Hutin believes the fad spread to France from Gulf countries. John Leicester, The Seattle Times, "Causing an uproar: Lion-car combo the latest in selfie bling," 14 Nov. 2018 This spiced spread makes everything taste like fall, including French toast, granola. and more. Woman's Day Test Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Apple Pumpkin Butter," 25 Oct. 2018 Instead of settling on a traditional dessert spread, let guests decorate their own sweet Halloween treats this year. Elle Decor Editors, ELLE Decor, "20 Halloween Party Ideas So Sophisticated They’ll Scare You," 18 Oct. 2018 Other dairy products—spreads like cream cheese—are generally a no-go because they aren't aged and preserved like butter. Audrey Bruno, SELF, "Here's How You Should Actually Store Condiments," 9 Oct. 2018 The duo had reimagined the rustic rooftop bar at New York's McKittrick Hotel into a comfy hideaway, complete with a breakfast spread and a full tent to shield everyone from the surprise downpour. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "Nate Berkus And Jeremiah Brent's New Faux-Shearling Chairs Are Chicest, Coziest Things Ever," 26 Sep. 2018 In a spread-out landscape lacking transit access and sufficient bus service—trolleys cover a small fraction of the city—a rapid investment in cycling infrastructure has made significant inroads. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Memphis downtown boom fueled by riverfront city’s rich history," 25 Sep. 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

6 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on spread

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spread

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spread

Spanish Central: Translation of spread

Nglish: Translation of spread for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spread for Arabic Speakers

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).


to enclose within walls

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