\ 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

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb No longer able to be free and feisty, Jen has to tread carefully to avoid triggering the new beast inside of her. Joe George, Men's Health, 19 Aug. 2022 But, because the perception of impropriety can be so damaging to the political order, the occupants of positions of power have a special obligation to tread lightly when dealing with their ideological opponents. The Editors, National Review, 10 Aug. 2022 Republican strategists acknowledge that swing state candidates will have to tread carefully on the issue. Steve Peoples, Chicago Tribune, 3 Aug. 2022 Musk must tread carefully not to be viewed as pushing his lenders to leave. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 27 Aug. 2022 Men tread the stone floors and old-world rugs in interesting shoes. Nathan Heller, Vogue, 23 Aug. 2022 Here’s the proper method: If the trail isn’t wide enough for proper spacing, step gingerly off the trail at a 90 degree angle, being careful not to tread on plants if at all possible. Marc Peruzzi, Outside Online, 23 Apr. 2020 Returning to a backward hamlet high in the Swiss mountains in the summer of 1900, a young nun seeks to tread the same path to emancipation as her elder sister, who ended up committing suicide. John Hopewell, Variety, 28 July 2022 Even where humans tread lightly, our collective impact touches everything. Lauren Mowery, Forbes, 5 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun What differs is the surface, mandating subtle modifications in tread, ride, geometries, and toughness. Jonathan Beverly, Outside Online, 9 Aug. 2022 But all newspapers, big and small, tread lightly when dealing with the powerful players in their own backyards. Los Angeles Times, 18 July 2022 If fishing from shore, tread as gently and quietly as possible. Bill May, Baltimore Sun, 17 July 2022 To avoid taking a fiscal loss, the Arizona Cardinals QB — who, as Cole Porter wrote, has the nimble tread on the feet of Fred Astaire — signed up to be embarrassingly sacked. Nick Canepacolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 July 2022 The shoes include a heavy-duty tread to minimize slipping, which is perfect for gardening in wet conditions. Brittany Vanderbill, Better Homes & Gardens, 8 Aug. 2022 Though both he and his fiancée were prepared, decked out in layers and boots with tread, Kelli McCarthy was not, forced to make the hike unexpectedly after missing the train down. Shannon Larson,, 1 Aug. 2022 Chloé's heeled rain boots are practical and polished, built with a sturdy block heel and tread. Laura Lajiness Kaupke, Harper's BAZAAR, 26 July 2022 The pacing in the first few scenes could slow so the beauty of the language and characters don’t get lost in a monotonous tread. New York Times, 26 May 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

23 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Tread.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for tread


\ 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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