\ 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

broadcast, circulate, disseminate, propagate

Synonyms: Noun

bedcover (also bedcovering), bedspread, counterpane, coverlet, hap [dialect]

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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

Eating habits in the U.S. have changed significantly in recent decades, and packaged bars, chips and sweets have spread into every corner of life. Washington Post, "Americans love snacks. What does that mean for their health?," 10 Sep. 2019 Eating habits in the U.S. have changed significantly in recent decades, and packaged bars, chips and sweets have spread into every corner of life. NBC News, "Americans love snacks. What does that mean for their health?," 9 Sep. 2019 Broadly though, the nightmare scenario is another Sarah Palin, who unraveled under the sudden, surprise pressure of national attention in 2008, spreading unspooled, untested, and uniformed into an outsized role on the campaign trail. Richard Morgan, Fortune, "Who Is Running for Vice President in 2020? These Are the Contenders for the Democratic Nomination," 9 Sep. 2019 Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a 3,000-year-old ritual, started by the Aztecs that spread north from Mexico into the states. Sonja Haller, USA TODAY, "Barbie is releasing a Day of the Dead doll this week, and she is glorious," 9 Sep. 2019 Determining where power is, how to build it, and how to spread it around has been the work of her life. Emily Tamkin, The New Republic, "Pramila Jayapal’s Vision of Power," 9 Sep. 2019 Forecasters said the threat of flooding will spread northward from Florida into the mid-Atlantic states by Friday. Leigh Morgan, al, "Hurricane Dorian 2019 path now: Dorian now a Category 3, heading for Carolinas," 4 Sep. 2019 Part of the challenge was the San Jose method of man marking, forcing individual battles on defense rather than spreading into a zoned structure. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Three things we learned from Orlando City’s 3-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes," 3 Sep. 2019 The key was to scrape out the marrow and spread it within the spaetzle. Daily Pilot, "On Food: Top 5 noodle creations and other treats at Foodbeast’s Nood Beach festival," 3 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Los Angeleshas a win percentage of 64.8 percent against the spread (second in the majors) and +16.5 units won (fifth in the majors). Chris Wassel, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers odds, predictions, picks and best bets," 6 Sep. 2019 The challenge is to find a middle ground between euthanizing as few animals as possible, ensuring that those in the shelters don’t endure overcrowding or the spread of disease, and providing animal control for public safety. Alicia Parlapiano, New York Times, "Why Euthanasia Rates at Animal Shelters Have Plummeted," 3 Sep. 2019 The most popular sports bets, in addition to the money line, are betting the spread and the total, said Eugene Schupak, product partner manager with Kambi, a technology platform provider for sports books, including Hollywood Casino's. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, Indianapolis Star, "Take a look inside a sports book at one of first Indiana casinos to offer wagering on NFL, NCAA, NBA," 30 Aug. 2019 Word spread, and a group of white men, some believed to be part of law enforcement, gathered at a church on Sept. 30, 1919. Lateshia Beachum, Washington Post, "A massacre of blacks haunted this Arkansas city. Then a memorial tree was cut down.," 30 Aug. 2019 The agency previously tweeted around 2 p.m. that the fire was 75 acres with a high rate of spread and 8-foot flames. Chelsea Curtis, azcentral, "The New River Fire in north Phoenix grows to more than 250 acres," 21 Aug. 2019 The dry season creates the favorable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Wildfires are burning around the world. The most alarming is in the Amazon rainforest.," 20 Aug. 2019 Downsides of being a duchess: Lack of privacy, gossip spread about you in the press, and wearing high heels way more than any human should have to. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Kate Middleton Reportedly Wears These $20 High Heel Insoles," 18 Aug. 2019 The Vikings will operate out of the spread and Stratton, a sophomore, will handle much of the distributing. Don Norcross, San Diego Union-Tribune, "2019 Eastern League prep football preview," 17 Aug. 2019

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

13 Sep 2019

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 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

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).


readily or continually undergoing change

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