\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Nonetheless, experts who track Voting Rights Act disputes since the 2013 ruling say that pro-annexation politicians will need to tread cautiously. al, "Intense racial polarization remains ‘elephant in the room’ over Alabama annexations," 10 Nov. 2019 If venturing to a real dark-tourism attraction is on your fall bucket list, tread lightly. Natalie B. Compton, The Know, "How to navigate the etiquette of dark tourism," 27 Oct. 2019 The Heat were treading water, out of the playoffs three times in five years. Ira Winderman,, "ASK IRA: Does Dragic deserve better from doubters?," 9 Oct. 2019 Nakamura’s been treading water a little since his bump up from NXT, the WWE’s developmental brand, last year. The Editors Of Gq, GQ, "WrestleMania 34 Is Going to Be a Goddang Blast," 6 Apr. 2018 Just be aware someone around you could be treading quicksand soon., "HAPPY BIRTHDAY," 17 Sep. 2019 Chance encounters, lucky breaks and sheer fate are how the story languidly treads along. Garrett Mitchell, Detroit Free Press, "Visually appealing ‘Goldfinch’ is far from a masterpiece," 12 Sep. 2019 There’s a touch of something special every time the Detroit Youth Choir tread the America’s Got Talent stage. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "Detroit Youth Choir Cover Panic! At The Disco on 'America's Got Talent': Watch," 10 Sep. 2019 In the mountains, Tibetan mastiffs dare to tread where other pups would drop their squeaky toys and whimper with exhaustion. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Wolves Gave Tibetan Mastiffs Their Mountaineering Genes," 9 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun After 315 miles on the Bushido II, my test pair still had life left: the uppers were largely intact, and the outsoles still had tread. Andrew Skurka, Outside Online, "Long-Term Review: La Sportiva Bushido II," 2 Oct. 2019 The subjects that were tested, Alberto’s sons were run on a tread mill for 20 min. at an ambient temp. oregonlive, "What you need to know about the Alberto Salazar doping scandal," 1 Oct. 2019 Tires on all vehicles, including ones with four-wheel-drive, must have minimum tread depths of three-sixteenths of an inch. Sam Tabachnik, The Know, "Here’s what Colorado’s new traction law means for ski season travel," 20 Sep. 2019 Conventional and self-sealing tires go flat without air, and the self-sealing tire works to hold in all that precious air by sealing a tread area injury. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "2020 Ford Explorer's new tires fix themselves, representing a coming trend for drivers," 29 June 2019 To keep staff fit and healthy, the company provides an exercise area in the office with a tread desk, exercise equipment and yoga mats. Leigh Farr, azcentral, "MEDIUM COMPANY RANKINGS:," 13 June 2019 Each marble tread locks into the one below it for support, and the inside of the stair’s solid-marble stringer creates a self-supporting spiral arch braced at each end. Karen Bruno, WSJ, "A Staircase That Takes a Step Up," 21 Aug. 2018 Nevada is another school that has been liberated from Adidas’ dreaded tire tread pattern. Paul Lukas,, "Uni Watch College Football Preview 2019," 29 Aug. 2019 On the mountain side, where Maxxis pretty much rules, there’s a tread pattern and rubber durometer for everyone, casings are tougher than ever, and tire weights are coming down. Aaron Gulley, Outside Online, "What We Learned From Our 2019 Bike Test," 25 June 2019

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

18 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Tread.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 November 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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


not agreeing with established beliefs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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