\ ˈthred \

Definition of thread 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a filament, a group of filaments twisted together, or a filamentous length formed by spinning and twisting short textile fibers into a continuous strand

b : a piece of thread

2a : any of various natural filaments the threads of a spiderweb

b : a slender stream (as of water)

c : a projecting helical rib (as in a fitting or on a pipe) by which parts can be screwed together : screw thread

3 : something continuous or drawn out: such as

a : a line of reasoning or train of thought that connects the parts in a sequence (as of ideas or events) lost the thread of the story

b : a continuing element a thread of melancholy marked all his writing

c : a series of electronic messages (as on a message board or social media website) following a single topic or in response to a single message

4 : a tenuous or feeble support hung on by a thread

5 threads plural : clothing


threaded; threading; threads

Definition of thread (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to pass a thread through the eye of (a needle)

b : to arrange a thread, yarn, or lead-in piece in working position for use in (a machine)

2a(1) : to pass something through in the manner of a thread thread a pipe with wire

(2) : to pass (something, such as a tape, line, or film) into or through something threaded a fresh roll of film into the camera

b : to make one's way through or between threading narrow alleys also : to make one's way usually cautiously through a hazardous situation

3 : to put together on or as if on a thread : string thread beads

4 : to interweave with or as if with threads : intersperse dark hair threaded with silver

5 : to form a screw thread on or in

intransitive verb

1 : weave sense 2 the car threaded through traffic

2 : to form a thread

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Other words from thread


threadless \ˈthred-ləs \ adjective
threadlike \ˈthred-ˌlīk \ adjective


threader noun

Examples of thread in a Sentence


A thread was hanging from the hem of her coat. the unwary bug was snared in the sticky threads of the spider's web


She threaded her shoelace through the holes. thread film through a camera They had to thread their way through the crowd. Waiters threaded through the crowd. a river that threads through narrow valleys
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Indigo Intel The blue base is cut with subtle white threads for a dusty cornflower blue hue. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "The Chambray Shirt: Why Every Man Needs This All-American Staple," 3 July 2018 How his story will entwine with the other threads of the plot is a significant source of suspense. Taylor Sheridan, New York Times, "Review: ‘Sicario: Day of the Soldado’ Blends War Movie and Western," 28 June 2018 The result was Ariadne Labs, named for the Greek goddess who showed Theseus the way out of a maze with a thread. Felice J. Freyer,, "Dr. Atul Gawande has long searched for a cure for the health care system," 25 June 2018 The show’s strengths derive from Pier 24’s broad familiarity with current threads in the timeworn fabric of straight photography. Charles Desmarais,, "Bruce Gilden’s grotesques at Pier 24 Photography," 22 June 2018 The Ironstone is an exceptional buy for its bright and deep color, suggestions of roses in its fruity fragrance, reinforcing but yielding tannic spine and juicy cherry fruit underscored with a welcome herbal thread. Mike Dunne, sacbee, "This year's best local wine you can (mostly) get for under $20," 20 June 2018 Over the years, the Krewella sound has incorporated everything from pop to dubstep to their Pakistani roots, all with a constant thread of disarming, heart-on-sleeve honesty. Dani Deahl, The Verge, "What’s in your bag, Krewella?," 15 June 2018 Think polenta cakes topped with chubby blackberries baked with flecks of Earl Grey and lemon tarts drizzled with tiny threads of dark chocolate. Genevieve Roth, Bon Appetit, "Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop Gets Me Through the Long Alaskan Winter," 6 June 2018 Jourdan Dunn channeled the 90s with her pinned up pile of baby braids—crafted by hairstylist Lacy Redway and shot through with golden thread. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "The 10 Best Beauty Instagrams of the Week: Selena Gomez Gets a Touch Up and More!," 3 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Using thin skewers or long toothpicks, assemble 16 banderillas, threading 1 cheese cube, 1 quail egg, 1 cornichon, 1 pickled onion, and 1 piquillo strip on each. Jonah Miller, WSJ, "Throw a Summer Party the Effortless Spanish Way," 6 July 2018 Evenly cut into 12 strips, and thread each strip onto a skewer. Lisa Lillien,, "Hungry Girl Shares Her Thai-Inspired Chicken and Creamy Peanut Sauce Recipe," 2 July 2018 Dwight Adams/IndyStar An Indiana teen late for work was caught on a Lake County interstate Wednesday threading around traffic at a blistering 135 mph. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "Teen motorcyclist caught doing 135 mph on interstate shoulder by Indiana State Police," 6 June 2018 Five minutes into the second half, Gustavo Bou settled a long ball and threaded a pass to Lucero, who calmly turned and fired a low strike into the left corner – pandemonium. Mark Zeigler,, "Tijuana Xolos beat Toluca in opening leg of Liga MX semis," 10 May 2018 The Revo, open with a climbing rope threaded through the device. Hayden Carpenter, Outside Online, "Testing Wild Country's Revo Belay Device," 2 July 2018 In suitable patients, two to eight valves are strategically placed in tiny airways using a scope that is threaded through the mouth into the lungs. Marie Mccullough,, "Emphysema patients get new option as FDA approves lung valves studied at Temple," 29 June 2018 This surreal universe, juxtaposed and paired with the realism of the video clips, will resurface at strategic moments, threaded between storytelling scenes and again at play’s end. Patti Restivo, Howard County Times, "In 'Making Advances,' a staged revolution," 14 June 2018 Ann Kelly lay awake on a table unable to move or talk as doctors pulled a clot out of a vessel in her brain using a catheter threaded from her groin. Meredith Cohn,, "More patients could survive — and even thrive after — major strokes under new guidelines," 1 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'thread.' 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 thread


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for thread


Middle English thred, from Old English thrǣd; akin to Old High German drāt wire, Old English thrāwan to cause to twist or turn — more at throw entry 1

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Phrases Related to thread

hang by a thread

pick up the threads

Statistics for thread

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for thread

The first known use of thread was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for thread



English Language Learners Definition of thread

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a long, thin piece of cotton, silk, etc., used for sewing

: a long, thin line of something

: the raised line that winds around a screw



English Language Learners Definition of thread (Entry 2 of 2)

: to put a thread, string, rope, etc., through a hole in something

: to put (film or tape) into a movie camera, tape recorder, etc., so that it is ready to be used

: to move forward by turning and going through narrow spaces


\ ˈthred \

Kids Definition of thread

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a thin fine cord formed by spinning and twisting short fibers into a continuous strand

2 : a thin fine line or strand of something a thread of light

3 : the ridge or groove that winds around a screw

4 : a train of thought that connects the parts of something (as an argument or story)

Other words from thread

threadlike \-ˌlīk \ adjective


threaded; threading

Kids Definition of thread (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to put a thread in working position (as in a needle)

2 : to pass something through another thing Thread the film through the camera.

3 : to make a way through or between He rushes on and on … threading his way with perfect skill between tree-trunks … —C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

4 : to put together on a thread : string

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Comments on thread

What made you want to look up thread? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


alleviating pain or harshness

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