\ 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 spread (audio) \ noun
spreadable \ ˈspre-​də-​bəl How to pronounce spread (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 At its Monday meeting, the City Council voted 5-0 to pass a resolution allowing city businesses to receive disposable face masks to use to prevent COVID-19’s spread. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Hank Aaron, skeptic’s mea culpa, vaccine campouts: News from around our 50 states," 6 Jan. 2021 Last year, as the coronavirus spread and movie theaters went dark, television consumption skyrocketed. Angela Watercutter, Wired, "These Are the 17 Must-Watch TV Shows of 2021," 6 Jan. 2021 The plan for destruction was shared and spread on social media. Stephanie Pagones, Fox News, "Dozens shot in Chicago, 5 murdered over holiday weekend," 5 Jan. 2021 The rain is expected to begin over western Arkansas and spread east throughout Wednesday, according to the briefing. Brianna Kwasnik, Arkansas Online, "Forecasters expand snow predictions for north Arkansas; heavy rain expected across state," 5 Jan. 2021 Other monkeys were squabbling over the grain that workers at the monkey park had spread on the riverbank and mountainside. Maciek Pożoga, Smithsonian Magazine, "What Japan’s Wild Snow Monkeys Can Teach Us About Animal Culture," 5 Jan. 2021 The genomic sequencing conducted by the league and its medical partner last week showed Cleveland's cases were unconnected, meaning the cases came from outside and weren’t spread within the team's headquarters. Tom Withers, ajc, "Cleveland rocked: Browns lose Stefanski vs Steelers to virus," 5 Jan. 2021 The genomic sequencing conducted by the league and its medical partner last week showed Cleveland’s cases were unconnected, meaning the cases came from outside and weren’t spread within the team’s headquarters. Tom Withers, SFChronicle.com, "Cleveland rocked: Browns lose coach Kevin Stefanski vs. Steelers to virus," 5 Jan. 2021 Yet evidence has rapidly increased that B.1.1.7’s many mutations, including eight in the crucial spike protein, do enhance spread. Kai Kupferschmidt, Science | AAAS, "Viral mutations may cause another ‘very, very bad’ COVID-19 wave, scientists warn," 5 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Increasing indoor ventilation and measuring the exchange of fresh air using carbon dioxide monitors could be key to curbing the spread of the coronavirus. Tony Barboza Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Essential California: The post-holiday surge is afoot," 6 Jan. 2021 That wide-spread recognition among Heisman voters is a fitting tribute to this undefeated (12-0) and No.-1 ranked Alabama team. Joseph Goodman | Jgoodman@al.com, al, "The ultimate teammate, Alabama Heisman winner DeVonta Smith dazzled with football artistry," 6 Jan. 2021 There are also some workers who relied on public transit or ride hailing services in the past who now prefer to have their own vehicle because of concerns over the possible spread of the Covid-19 virus. Chris Isidore, CNN, "Americans are buying cars again," 5 Jan. 2021 If so, being indoors may have contributed to the ease of the infection’s spread. Nanette Asimov, SFChronicle.com, "Deadly outbreak at Kaiser San Jose grows to 60 infections while county studies if new variant is involved," 5 Jan. 2021 Charges of anti-conservative bias raged before the presidential election when Facebook and Twitter limited the spread of a New York Post article about Biden’s son Hunter, which cited unverified emails reportedly uncovered by allies of Trump. Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY, "Donald Trump and Joe Biden vs. Facebook and Twitter: Why Section 230 could get repealed in 2021," 5 Jan. 2021 Brooklynne Rude’s buck had 28 points, a 23-inch inside spread, and a green score of 215 inches, according to her dad and his hunting buddy. Outdoor Life, "After Being Barred from the Family Deer Camp, Beginner’s Luck with a 215-Inch Iowa Buck," 5 Jan. 2021 But that effect breaks down when case numbers reach a critical threshold and public health authorities are overwhelmed, which means tougher measures now can help contain the spread of the new variant later. Kai Kupferschmidt, Science | AAAS, "Viral mutations may cause another ‘very, very bad’ COVID-19 wave, scientists warn," 5 Jan. 2021 DeWine consistently has pleaded with the public to wear masks, wash hands, socially distance and exercise other precautions to prevent virus spread -- all the while promising that the vaccine will the key to getting back to normal. Laura Hancock, cleveland, "Repeatedly pressed on Ohio’s vaccine plan, Gov. Mike DeWine refuses to provide details," 5 Jan. 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.

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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

10 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spread.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spread. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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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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