\ 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

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Other Words from spread


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

Synonyms for spread

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that wearing a mask when social distancing is not possible could prevent people who have the virus but don’t know it from spreading it to others. Jordan Fabian, Fortune, "Trump admits he’s taking the same anti-malaria drug that the FDA warns against," 19 May 2020 These differences shaped not only the responses of policymakers—red states acted less drastically and less quickly on the whole than blue states—but the behavior of Americans on the ground, potentially influencing the virus’s spread. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "We’re Not Polarized Enough," 19 May 2020 The positive cases, once thought to be limited to the skilled nursing unit, have spread to other places. Arizona Republic, "As Glendale nursing home's deaths rises, it challenges others: Make your COVID-19 cases public," 19 May 2020 The incident outside Brunswick, Ga., garnered national attention after a video of the 25-year-old man’s shooting spread online this month, prompting the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to take over the case. ... Sabrina Siddiqui, WSJ, "New Video Shows Police Tried to Tase Ahmaud Arbery in 2017," 19 May 2020 The virus spreading rapidly prevents any size of crowd. Annie Lane, oregonlive, "Dear Annie: Retired nurse shares words of comfort," 18 May 2020 China has consistently pushed back against any criticism, pointing to a warning given to the WHO in late December about a potential new strain of pneumonia spreading in the city of Wuhan. James Griffiths, CNN, "China has been trying to avoid fallout from coronavirus. Now 100 countries are pushing for an investigation," 18 May 2020 The virus spreading rapidly prevents any size of crowd. cleveland, "Dear Annie: Nurses are there for your loved ones, even when you can’t be," 17 May 2020 The virus, which was first identified in December 2019, has currently spread to 188 countries and regions and infected more than 4,400,000 people. Amber Brenza, Health.com, "What Is an Endemic Virus? WHO Warns COVID-19 'May Never Go Away'," 14 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Court challenges in multiple states seek to compel ICE to release detainees in order to reduce the spread of the virus. NBC News, "First coronavirus death in U.S. immigration detention reported," 7 May 2020 Collins did point out that social media platforms have taken recent steps to curb the spread of coronavirus misinformation. Oliver Darcy, CNN, "Analysis: Hellish reality of modern information ecosystem presents particular danger during pandemic," 7 May 2020 Additionally, masks were offered to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Los Angeles Times, "Reopening L.A. will be slow as coronavirus cases and deaths keep mounting," 6 May 2020 Some governors began relaxing restrictions meant to curb the spread of covid-19 at the end of April, after they were prodded by President Trump and cautioned by public health officials. Washington Post, "Here’s where people are going," 6 May 2020 Schools have been closed for nearly two months in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Roy Kent, Houston Chronicle, "Spring Branch ISD weighing graduation options for its Houston-area seniors," 5 May 2020 Also, stores, restaurants, taverns, and attractions, including parks, beaches, museums and events venues, have shut down to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Spending by Wisconsin travelers increased 3% in 2019. But the state tourism industry faces a dismal summer.," 4 May 2020 Public health officials on Saturday urged people to continue to stay home to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as temperatures reached into the 70s in some parts of Illinois. Brett Rowland, Washington Examiner, "Officials urge Illinoisans to stay home as warmer weather arrives," 4 May 2020 That's expected to change in coming weeks, as the economy gradually reopens and testing ramps up — when the challenge becomes curbing the spread of the virus while parts of the community start to resume activity. Darcy Costello, The Courier-Journal, "As economy reopens, Louisville must boost contact tracing to curb COVID-19. Here's how," 2 May 2020

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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Time Traveler for spread

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for spread

Last Updated

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spread.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spread. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for spread


How to pronounce spread (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on spread

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spread

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spread

Spanish Central: Translation of spread

Nglish: Translation of spread for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spread for Arabic Speakers

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