\ ˈtred How to pronounce tread (audio) \
trod\ ˈträd How to pronounce tread (audio) \ also treaded; trodden\ ˈträ-​dᵊn How to pronounce tread (audio) \ 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 How to pronounce tread (audio) \ adjective

Examples of tread in a Sentence

Verb 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. Noun The treads of the tires were badly worn. running shoes with good treads
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb If making new rules that impose fresh limits, the NCAA would have to tread lightly to protect itself against new litigation. Los Angeles Times, 21 June 2021 With significant work and health outcomes at stake, Kudret recommends that employers tread with caution regarding summoning employees to their pre-pandemic workplaces. Benjamin Laker, Forbes, 4 May 2021 But, Bank of America warns investors to tread carefully, arguing that the rise of digital currencies could also undermine a country’s physical currency through dollarization and inflation. Sophie Mellor, Fortune, 14 June 2021 This Sunday – May 23 – is the day Jeff Swislocki will tread up and down the Fort Hill stairs at the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Metroparks Reservation. cleveland, 17 May 2021 As Joshua Tree continues to fall victim to the effects of global warming and pollution, Morris and Maaryn intend for this space to tread lightly in its environment. Sam Sussman, Vogue, 2 Apr. 2021 Incredibly, where parents fear for their children to tread, some business leaders have waded right in. Douglas Carr, National Review, 11 May 2021 Now Burt is going where so many other developers have feared to tread--renewing existing structures in downtown Little Rock. Rex Nelson, Arkansas Online, 1 May 2021 Now mountain bikers and hikers have replaced the horses and oxen, which, along with dogs, can no longer tread the path that is part of the Salt Lake City watershed. Julie Jag, The Salt Lake Tribune, 4 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Float or tread water if the current circulates back towards the shore. Leada Gore |, al, 17 June 2021 Based on what Taylor’s seen from Green during his time in Cincinnati, the Bengals coach believes the veteran receiver still has plenty of tread on his tires. Tyler Dragon, The Enquirer, 18 Mar. 2021 Investors have tread more carefully in the last few months. Yvonne Lau, Fortune, 18 June 2021 The carpet tread is also completely removable for easy cleaning. Tim Kohut, BGR, 3 June 2021 Some parts of the lagoon are rife with microplastics, or small pieces of plastic that may never fully break down, even more so than in other well-tread waterways in Florida. Scottie Andrew, CNN, 30 May 2021 These tires have tread compounds that bite harder in dirt, mud, and on loose gravel. Clifford Atiyeh, Car and Driver, 29 May 2021 Will Hollingsworth leads The Owl to where few other bars dare tread. Beth Segal, cleveland, 28 May 2021 Like their sporty counterpart, these heavy tread loafers have been seen paired with sweats, mini skirts, and floral midi dresses, for a more polished look that feels so right for right now. Julia Gall, Marie Claire, 26 May 2021

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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Time Traveler for tread

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for tread

Last Updated

13 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tread.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce tread (audio) \
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

More from Merriam-Webster on tread

Nglish: Translation of tread for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tread for Arabic Speakers


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