\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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 The country would need to tread more cautiously in the endgame of the Afghan war. New York Times, "Biden’s Afghan Pullout Is a Victory for Pakistan. But at What Cost?," 15 Apr. 2021 However, the big man isn’t a definite home-run upgrade, so Chicago should tread lightly and patiently explore all options. Jason Patt, Forbes, "Andre Drummond Trade Rumor Pops Up As Chicago Bulls Hit All-Star Break," 5 Mar. 2021 The growing rivalry between India and China means the Maldives will need to tread carefully to maintain good relations with both Asian giants. Nectar Gan, CNN, "A tale of two bridges: India and China vying for influence in the Maldives," 24 Nov. 2020 Instagram is attempting to tread a new tightrope, testing a way to make social media less anxiety-provoking while still attempting to keep the buzz that prompted it to surge in popularity. Washington Post, "What’s not to like? Instagram lets users hide ‘like’ counts on posts.," 15 Apr. 2021 Breyer's broader point, that lawmakers should tread carefully in response to talk of adding to the court's nine-member bench, isn't new. John Fritze, USA TODAY, "'Think long and hard': Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer pushes back on 'court-packing'," 7 Apr. 2021 In reality, those who tread water are falling backward, because the vast majority of those around them are constantly improving their technical skills. Joseph Folkman, Forbes, "The Danger Of Being Perceived As A Digital Dunce," 6 Apr. 2021 The Red Sox are in a phase with many similarities to the 2015-17 Rays, though with the resources (at least in theory) to tread at water levels higher than those where the Rays operated., "When imagining a way forward for Red Sox, think a remix on the Rays model," 6 Apr. 2021 But neither the performance of Jovan Adepo as Bernard nor the taut direction by Jennifer Chang can overcome a script that attempts to tread too much territory in 75 minutes. David L. Coddon, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Arts & Culture Newsletter: Celebrating 50 years of Queen with 50 weeks’ worth of free clips," 25 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The winding parallel discolorations in the surface reveal the tread of the six-wheeled rover. Mike Wehner, BGR, "NASA’s Mars helicopter took a photo, and it’s a beauty," 26 Apr. 2021 Investigators also found a shoe of the same size and tread that matched a shoe print found a the scene. CBS News, "Ohio man accused in killings of his ex and 7 of her family members: "I am guilty, your honor"," 23 Apr. 2021 Investigators also found a shoe of the same size and tread that matched a shoe print found a the scene. Mark Gillispie And Kantele Franko, Star Tribune, "Man pleads guilty in fatal shootings of 8 from Ohio family," 22 Apr. 2021 His character, Martin, has the leaden tread of a man stuck in a midlife crisis. E. Alex Jung, Vulture, "In Conversation: Mads Mikkelsen," 20 Apr. 2021 Beneath the tread, several different materials make up the supporting carcass. Bob Beacham,, "The best folding bike tire," 10 Apr. 2021 The tall boots feature a 12-inch shaft height, a slip-resistant rubber tread sole and an adjustable side buckle. Mili Godio, NBC News, "Best rain boots sales 2021: Hunter, J. Crew, Sperry and more," 7 Apr. 2021 One of the more puzzling developments in states’ rights conservatism has been the combination of don’t-tread-on-me militancy with a determination to keep sucking on the federal teat. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, "Republican Brats Are Complaining About Getting Billions in Covid Relief," 19 Mar. 2021 The job of these tread patterns is to remove water from the contact patch as quickly and efficiently as possible. Laurie Winkless, Forbes, "Scientists Unveil What Happens When Tyres Slide On Wet Roads," 17 Mar. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tread

Time Traveler for tread

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for tread

Last Updated

2 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tread.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tread

Nglish: Translation of tread for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tread for Arabic Speakers

Comments on tread

What made you want to look up tread? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!