\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

History-rich cities have long had to blend mundane threads of modern life with revered structures, particularly as urban centers boom. Jennifer Levitz, WSJ, "On Freedom Trail: Paul Revere’s House, the Old North Church—and Burritos," 30 Nov. 2018 But give a point sufficient current and a thread of titanium will form, connecting the two bits of platinum. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Memristors built with 2-nanometer-thick parts," 14 Nov. 2018 Katelyn Burns, a trans writer and reporter, started a thread of trans people’s crowdfunds, Venmos, and CashApp handles to provide cisgender people and allies with an immediate way to make a difference. Elly Belle, Teen Vogue, "Transgender People and Allies React to Trump Memo on Limiting Gender Definition," 22 Oct. 2018 Their separate narrative arcs all tie in with the finale’s main thread of Gilead’s oppressed finally pushing back against their oppressors. Lorraine Ali,, "Review: 'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 2 finale sets up a compelling new direction for the series," 11 July 2018 Xavier Bonner Trio Xavier Bonner weaves threads of the soulful and the metaphysical into his mesmerizing jazz compositions. Jeff Milo, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit music: Idiot Kids at Outer Limits, Nick Speed at the Old Miami," 5 July 2018 Menashe, who spent much of his childhood hanging around his father’s bakery outside Tel Aviv, teases out threads of Israeli cooking that stretch to Lebanon, Turkey, Morocco, Georgia, and beyond. Garrett Snyder, Los Angeles Magazine, "Restaurant Review: Ori Menashe’s Bavel Pushes Mideast Cuisine to New Heights," 21 June 2018 Wrap plumber’s tape in a clockwise direction two or three times around the threads of the shower arm. Daniel Bortz, sacbee, "Four home-improvement jobs you can knock out," 15 June 2018 That means cooking it properly, ignoring package or recipe instructions and instead relying on a system of vigilant testing until only the barest thread of raw pasta remains in the center of the noodle. Matt Goulding, Condé Nast Traveler, "How to Eat Like an Italian," 13 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Cockrell’s roots are threaded through North Carolina. Scott Fowler, charlotteobserver, "Be part of hometown NFL team? Panthers' Ross Cockrell, high school teammate both have," 30 May 2018 The Walking Dead has always done a decent job of threading the needle and staying true to its source, while also making the show feel fresh and unique — at least up until Negan’s introduction. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "The Walking Dead’s fresh start looks like a big step back," 12 Nov. 2018 The good stuff, like Pie's smart rotation switch, threaded messaging notifications, and new emojis, all made it. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "OnePlus 6T Review: Amazing value with an even more amazing fingerprint reader," 29 Oct. 2018 Workers called plate pluggers clamp these disks atop a 2.5-meter telescope in New Mexico, after threading optical cables into the hundreds of holes. Eric Betz, Discover Magazine, "A Heavenly Disk To Map The Universe," 13 Aug. 2018 In tallying the time each task took, the researchers found that in VR, threading the nanotube and tying the knot went much quicker. Veronique Greenwood, New York Times, "It’s Time for a Chemistry Lesson. Put on Your Virtual Reality Goggles.," 3 July 2018 The 2011 guidance sought to help school districts thread the needle when using race or other factors in enrollment policies. Nick Anderson, Washington Post, "Trump administration moves to rescind Obama-era guidance on race in admissions," 3 July 2018 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

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

5 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on thread

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with thread

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for thread

Spanish Central: Translation of thread

Nglish: Translation of thread for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of thread for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about thread

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).


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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