\ ˈtred \
trod\ˈträd \ also treaded; trodden\ˈträ-dᵊn \ or trod; treading

Definition of tread 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to step or walk on or over

b : to walk or proceed along : follow treading a fine line between tradition and innovation

2a : to form by treading : beat tread a path

b : to execute by stepping or dancing tread a measure

3a : to beat or press with the feet : trample

b : to subdue or repress as if by trampling : crush

4 : to copulate with used of a male bird

intransitive verb

1 : to move or proceed on or as if on foot must tread lightly

2a : to set foot has gone where others fear to tread

b : to put one's foot : step carelessly treading on the flowers

3 : copulate

tread on one's toes

: to give offense (as by encroaching on one's rights or feelings)

tread water

: to keep the body nearly upright in the water and the head above water by a treading motion of the feet usually aided by the hands



Definition of tread (Entry 2 of 2)

1a(1) : the part of a wheel or tire that makes contact with a road or rail

(2) : the pattern of ridges or grooves made or cut in the face of a tire

b : the part of a shoe or boot sole that touches the ground also : the pattern on the bottom of a sole

2a : the upper horizontal part of a step

b : the width of such a tread

3a : manner of stepping

b : the sound of treading

c(1) : the action of treading

(2) : an act or instance of treading : step

4 : a mark (something, such as a footprint or the imprint of a tire) made by or as if by treading

5 : the distance between the points of contact with the ground of the two front wheels or the two rear wheels of a vehicle

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Other words from tread


treader noun


treadless \ˈtred-ləs \ adjective

Examples of tread in a Sentence


They slowly trod back to the camp. Don't tread on the grass. treading the halls of the Senate Countless footsteps have trodden a path to their door.


The treads of the tires were badly worn. running shoes with good treads
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Chinese President Xi Jinping appears to be treading carefully to avoid a public relations mess, analysts say. Danielle Paquette, Washington Post, "China tells the U.S. to stop hurting itself in the trade war," 11 July 2018 But other witnesses have also described treading lightly for fear of angering the governor’s office. Vivian Wang, New York Times, "Culture of Fear and Ambition Distorted Cuomo’s Economic Projects," 5 July 2018 But farmers don’t have a clear idea what the president’s end game is, and Trump hasn’t treaded lightly with his rhetoric. Tara Golshan, Vox, "Why Trump’s trade agenda might worsen America’s cheese glut," 4 July 2018 Yet so far, foreign buyers have trodden carefully, mostly buying government bonds and steering clear of riskier municipal and corporate bonds, says Zhenbo Hou of BlueBay Asset Management. The Economist, "Why foreigners are keen buyers of Chinese government bonds," 28 June 2018 USA TODAY Sports MOSCOW – Alexi Lalas never treads lightly with his television analysis and is no stranger to stoking the ire of punchy soccer fans spoiling for a Twitter tussle. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo? Be careful how you answer," 14 June 2018 Normally, this would need no apology, but since there has been an almost five-year-long feud between Swift and judge Katy Perry, the Idol hopeful was right to tread lightly. Jamie Ballard, Good Housekeeping, "Katy Perry's Reaction to "American Idol" Contestant Loving Taylor Swift Is Priceless," 19 Mar. 2018 Jamel Dunn, who was disabled and walked with a cane, can be seen in the footage treading water in the middle of the pond before going under. Chris Harris,, "Florida Teens Who Filmed, Mocked Drowning Disabled Man and Didn't Get Help Won't Face Charges," 25 June 2018 In fact, the Fed has been treading water for years, merely raising rates in line with inflation since the start of 2015, on average. WSJ, "No Need for a Tantrum Yet; The Fed Is Just Treading Water," 18 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The whole thing sits on top of a thick sole that’s armed with a grippy tread bottom. Tyler Watamanuk, GQ, "Forget the Dad Shoe—It’s Time for the Grandpa Sneaker," 11 June 2018 Although many analyses have studied the falling cost of installing offshore wind, assigning a value to offshore wind is ground that is less well-tread. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "The value of offshore wind energy: What the US is missing out on," 26 Apr. 2018 Shrager suggests one with wide steps and treads and perhaps even a safety bar handrail. Jane E. Brody, charlotteobserver, "How to age well and stay in your home," 27 June 2018 The baseball reasons have been tread over time and again. Jon Meoli,, "How did this happen? Orioles players examine why this season spun out of control," 24 June 2018 The pieces bear the marks of this process; they are whorled and rutted from fingers, elbows and boot treads. Sharon Mizota,, "Brie Ruais puts all of her body weight into each sculpture she makes," 19 May 2018 Searchers also spotted footprints near the Sanford Glacier that matched the tread of a boot found a mile down the river. Anchorage Daily News, "NPS: Evidence suggests overdue hikers may have died crossing river in Wrangell-St. Elias," 2 July 2018 Brewer’s vehicle sustained a mechanical malfunction, resulting in the brake drum and tire tread separating from the truck, Montes said. Stephen Ruiz,, "FedEx driver killed in freak accident on turnpike, FHP says," 21 June 2018 Made of oak hardwood, the risers, treads, and handrail are stained in contrasting tones. Joan Walden,, "288 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury," 21 June 2018

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


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


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for tread


Middle English treden, from Old English tredan; akin to Old High German tretan to tread

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Statistics for tread

Last Updated

9 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tread

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

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More Definitions for tread



English Language Learners Definition of tread

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to walk

: to walk on or along (something)

: to form (a path) by walking



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

: the part of a tire that touches the ground : the pattern of raised lines on the surface of a tire

: a mark made by a tire when it rolls over the ground

: the part of a shoe or boot that touches the ground : the pattern of raised lines on the bottom of a shoe or boot


\ ˈtred \
trod\ˈträd \; trodden\ˈträ-dᵊn \ or trod; treading

Kids Definition of tread

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to step or walk on or over

2 : to beat or press with the feet The snow was deep … few people had been out to tread it down … —Susan Cooper, The Dark is Rising

3 : to move on foot : walk

tread water

: to keep the body upright in water and the head above water by moving the legs and arms



Kids Definition of tread (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the action, manner, or sound of stepping or walking

2 : a mark made by a tire rolling over the ground

3 : the part of something (as a shoe or tire) that touches a surface

4 : the part of a step that is stepped on stair treads

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More from Merriam-Webster on tread

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tread

Spanish Central: Translation of tread

Nglish: Translation of tread for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tread for Arabic Speakers

Comments on tread

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to make amends

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