\ 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 Although there are reports that the trend has faded, thanks to a spate of closures and bankruptcies, in July 2019 there were 2,004 poke restaurants open for business and listed on Yelp, spread across 47 states plus the District of Columbia. Adam Skolnick, Longreads, "The Poke Paradox," 12 Feb. 2020 Effective immediately, any individual public health professionals consider to be at risk for spreading coronavirus will be subject to a 14-day quarantine. Erin Schumaker, ABC News, "American Airlines extends flight suspensions to Hong Kong and mainland China amidst coronavirus," 11 Feb. 2020 There’s a crowded and contentious election, a historic impeachment trial, serious threats of war, fast-spreading misinformation about a lethal virus, and even wild shake ups in the 1,500 year old British monarchy. Jenny Singer, Glamour, "Eating Goldfish, Writing History—How Women in Journalism Are Making News Happen," 5 Feb. 2020 People weren’t unwittingly walking around and spreading the disease. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "What You Need to Know About Coronavirus and Travel," 1 Feb. 2020 Indeed, when slum demolitions happen, the evictees usually end up spreading to other similar communities. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "Africa’s largest city has a habit of kicking out its poor to make room for the rich," 31 Jan. 2020 If passed from animal to human, the virus can change and infect other humans, who can spread the infection to others, according to the CDC. USA Today, "Everything you need to know about coronavirus, the deadly illness alarming the world," 29 Jan. 2020 McCarthy, along with actors like Jim McCarthy and Alicia Silverstone, the rapper Kevin Gates, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., has boosted the anti-science movement by helping spread it’s rhetoric to the public at large, mainstreaming it in the process. Michael Arceneaux, Essence, "How Did The Anti-Vaxx Movement Reach The ‘Love And Hip Hop’ Crowd?," 28 Jan. 2020 Back in 2015, Jordyn helped PETA2 spread the message to adopt pets. Kori Williams, Seventeen, "10 Fun Facts About Jordyn Jones That’ll Make You Love Her Even More," 27 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Provide more needle exchanges to prevent the spread of diseases such as hepatitis and HIV. Terry Demio, Cincinnati.com, "Meth is back and flooding the streets of Ohio and Kentucky, and it's uglier than ever," 13 Feb. 2020 The crew members are staying aboard the ship in line with a White House proclamation last month that restricts travel into the U.S. in order to help prevent the spread of the virus, according to an email from the Coast Guard. Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News, "Crew of ship arriving from China at Dutch Harbor must stay on board as a coronavirus precaution," 13 Feb. 2020 Experts said the declines were promising signals that China’s lockdown of tens of millions of people may be working to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Michael Zennie, Time, "China Reported a Huge Increase in New COVID-19 Cases. Here’s Why It’s Actually a Step in the Right Direction," 13 Feb. 2020 Dozens of Chinese cities were put on lockdown in late January while many factories and businesses were shut to prevent the spread of the virus. Laura He, CNN, "China is struggling to get back to work after the coronavirus lockdown," 11 Feb. 2020 The growth of new cases could still accelerate, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus said, adding that there was still a window of opportunity to contain the spread of the virus. Stu Woo, WSJ, "Coronavirus Outbreak Has Killed More People Than SARS," 10 Feb. 2020 The quarantine was in place to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. NBC News, "Coronavirus updates: Death toll tops 1,000 in China as nations race to contain outbreak," 10 Feb. 2020 They are not recommended for the general public to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Catherine Ho, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Area clinics seek supplies of masks for coronavirus: ‘There’s a huge shortage’," 10 Feb. 2020 Bexar County commissioners have also allocated $80,000 to fund a needle exchange program to prevent the spread of HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and other infectious and communicable diseases. Emilie Eaton, ExpressNews.com, "County plans to offer inmates in San Antonio new treatment option to fight deadly opioid epidemic," 10 Feb. 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

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spread.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spread. Accessed 26 Feb. 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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