\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

One common thread with the Sixers, Harris said, is that putting money into a college program won’t cause overnight success. Mike Jensen,, "76ers owner Josh Harris gives $1 million gift to Penn wrestling," 11 July 2018 Any local kids/college players in the Quad cities area that are interested in caddying in the tournament this week, this thread is for you. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Pro golfer recruits a Twitter follower to caddie for him in upcoming PGA event," 10 July 2018 Get your history fix in one place: sign up for the weekly TIME History newsletter The common thread in these statements is Einstein’s clear (and extreme) intellectual elitism. Ze'ev Rosenkranz, Time, "The Real Lesson of the Racial Slurs in Albert Einstein’s Private Travel Diaries," 19 June 2018 The unifying thread through all of this is the nonstop assault on objective truth with a specific political intent, which is to incite fervor among his supporters into a very difficult midterm election. Rebecca Ballhaus, WSJ, "Trump Seeks to Discredit Russia Probe, Using Report as Brickbat," 15 June 2018 The moment Nguyen put strain on the triple surgical thread was the first time Kevin Portillo ever smiled on the left side of his face. Neil Steinberg, CNN, "How far would you go to be able to smile?," 13 June 2018 The main thread of Frazier’s book is the journey by ambulance meant to take the family to Cuba that instead ends in their capture as soon as Jefferson Davis joins his wife and children. Sarah Stone, San Francisco Chronicle, "‘Varina,’ by Charles Frazier," 31 May 2018 The common thread is that science can be exciting, beautiful, and helpful, but also irresponsible, perverse, and destructive. Sean W. Fleming, WIRED, "Lessons from Montecito: Science's Credibility Is At Stake," 14 May 2018 On Tuesday, a similar thread was evident in Facebook’s release of the document that outlines its community standards. Maya Kosoff, The Hive, "Is Mark Zuckerberg Being Asked to Do the Impossible?," 24 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Its architect, Joe Bucher, a partner at the firm Gresham Smith, says that the buildings will be threaded through with shopping walkways, piazzas, and a 1.5-acre park — semi-public spaces that will help graft a new neighborhood onto a dead street. Justin Davidson, Daily Intelligencer, "Downtown Nashville Is Supposed to Be the Model of the Walkable 21st-Century City. I’m Not So Sure.," 8 June 2018 When the ceremony concluded, people flooded to the mural to leave flowers, zig zagging up the walkway as flowers filled up available space on ledges and were threaded through railings. Corlyn Voorhees,, "Portland marks MAX attack anniversary with ceremony, mural dedication," 26 May 2018 His home was the hub of numerous family gatherings, wonderful meals, much swimming and laughter; and his treasured family stories were threaded through our lives., "John L. Plaster Sr.," 9 May 2018 After mucking up his books with big-dollar deals for Evan Turner, Allen Crabbe, Moe Harkless and Meyers Leonard in recent years, Blazers president Neil Olshey threaded the needle with Nurkic. Ben Golliver,, "Grades: Blazers Finally Ink Core a Piece in Jusuf Nurkic to Team-Friendly Deal," 7 July 2018 Saraga fills a need by offering everything from a cellphone shop to a place to get your eyebrows threaded, all in languages that folks who have just arrived can understand. Zahir Janmohamed, Bon Appetit, "Saraga Is the International Grocery Store of My Dreams," 6 June 2018 Science writer Zimmer threads together many intriguing narratives—each a story about how researchers tackled, and often misunderstood, heredity. Andrea Gawrylewski, Scientific American, "Apollo, the Graphic Novel; Scientists on Acid and Other New Science Books," 1 June 2018 Sudfeld threaded a low and outside sideline pass to receiver Bryce Treggs, who made a nice grab. Jeff Mclane,, "Eagles practice observations: Carson Wentz does more (again); Sidney Jones intercepts; De'Vante Bausby gets some looks," 29 May 2018 Currently, catching this problem in the upper digestive tract requires endoscopy—threading a long, flexible tube with a little camera on the end down your throat, through your stomach, and into the upper section of your small intestines. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "This capsule of glowing E. coli will probe your gut for signs of trouble," 25 May 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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Statistics for thread

Last Updated

7 Nov 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).


something that serves to warn or remind

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