\ ˈtred How to pronounce tread (audio) \
trod\ ˈträd How to pronounce trod (audio) \ also treaded; trodden\ ˈträ-​dᵊn How to pronounce trodden (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
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 treadless (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 The play is set in their house, where Bella treads on eggshells. Vicky Spratt,, "The Government Is Gaslighting Us & It Will Kill People," 19 May 2020 For now, few are predicting a continent-wide recession, but Nigeria and South Africa, which have been treading water in recent quarters, are going to take a big hit. Yinka Adegoke, Quartz Africa, "Africa is watching a potential health disaster turn into an economic crisis, quickly," 29 Mar. 2020 Caring for a child like that, one of Hugo’s close friends told me, is like trying to tread water with an anchor around your neck. David Wolman, Outside Online, "The Man Who Chases Auroras to Push Away Darkness," 6 Jan. 2020 The first weeks for Nicole Joy Frethem were like treading water in the deep end. Tad Vezner, Twin Cities, "Ramsey County Commissioner Nicole Joy Frethem’s trial by fire," 25 Dec. 2019 For the Hosts at Golden Oaks, surrogacy is merely a new way to tread water. Jessica Weisberg, The New Yorker, "Can Surrogacy Remake the World?," 11 Dec. 2019 The time period spanning February and March is an especially difficult time to get ahead, so tread water and wait until April to put your ambitious plans into motion. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Horoscope for Oct. 22, 2019: Sagittarius, pay it forward; Leo, you want to hear the truth," 22 Oct. 2019 The benchmark index has been treading water this week despite volatility caused by a swing in oil prices and the Federal Reserve’s latest interest rate cut. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Fresh US-China trade worries erase early gains for stocks," 20 Sep. 2019 The complex had been outfitted with political messages: US flags were spread on the floor in the entrances so that worshipers could tread on them. Ben Hubbard,, "Iran’s supreme leader rebukes US in rare Friday sermon," 17 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Barry's still offers one Zoom class per day that sticks to the classic half-treadmill, half-floor exercise format, for those with access to the tread. Molly Longman,, "The Best Zoom Workout Classes To Sweat To This Week," 1 May 2020 Tying it all together, a non-pneumatic frame will support the tread. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "Goodyear's New Tire Concept Can Regenerate Tread on the Go," 13 Mar. 2020 At the husband’s request, Haynes and Roberts built a knockout staircase of steel, timber treads, and polished nickel inspired by an Oscar Niemeyer design. Vanessa Lawrence, ELLE Decor, "Design Firm Haynes-Roberts Crafts a Curated Townhouse in London," 20 Nov. 2019 While Poftak updated reporters, three workers were replacing stair treads in a stairwell that connects to Red Line trains and the Orange Line’s southbound platform., "On Friday night, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority began its first round of weekend service interruptions that are planned through mid-December by closing six Orange Line stations between Sullivan Square and Tufts Medical Center, so workers could make repairs and upgrades.," 6 Oct. 2019 That may have been the fault of the all-season Bridgestones, but those are the donuts the car came with (some RX300s will come with Goodyears that have a wider tread pattern). Don Schroeder, Car and Driver, "Tested: 1998 Lexus RX300," 14 May 2020 The major improvement was replacing the original solid stairwell with a luminescent architectural one, composed of aluminum grilles with glass decking, glass stair treads and clear risers. Los Angeles Times, "Before & After: A master architect passes the torch in Malibu," 3 Apr. 2020 Rotating your tires regularly will make sure the tread wears evenly and postpone the need for expensive tire replacement. cleveland, "How to make your car last 200,000 miles," 25 Apr. 2020 As the miles stack up and the tread wears down, the pressure differential between the interior of the cartridge and the tire surface draws out the compound. Eric Adams, Wired, "Goodyear's Concept Tire Regenerates Burned-Off Rubber," 7 Mar. 2020

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

2 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tread.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for tread


How to pronounce tread (audio)

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

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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

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