\ 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 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 Regent Richard Beeson cautioned the university must tread carefully into the world of remote learning and not try to compete with large online colleges. Ryan Faircloth, Star Tribune, "University of Minnesota provost manages crisis, plans for post-pandemic future," 13 Mar. 2021 All who tread the beach deserve mental health counseling on Survivor's dime. Dalton Ross,, "Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Zeke Smith reflects on being outed as trans on the show," 5 Mar. 2021 Remind yourself of this when parent guilt attempts to tread that familiar path, both now and after the pandemic. Washington Post, "How to cope with parent guilt, during the pandemic and beyond," 25 Feb. 2021 In its place will be ambitious twin brewing concepts: Duneyrr, whose arcane name reflects its arcane pursuit of creating wild ales and beer-wine hybrids, and Moderne Dune, which will tread a far more accessible path with a focus on lagers and IPAs. Josh Noel,, "Motor Row Brewing didn’t survive the pandemic, but 2 Lagunitas alums hope their wine-beer hybrids will flourish in its place," 4 Mar. 2021 When Geddert opened his own gym, Twistars, with his wife in 1996, parents learned quickly to tread lightly around him or jeopardize their daughters’ chances at a college scholarship — or the Olympics. New York Times, "Gymnasts’ Abusers ‘Were Buds and Protected Each Other’," 26 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The splashy, all-in blockbuster deals of recent offseasons have been replaced for now by moves meant to give the Red Sox a chance to at least tread water in a ferocious AL East, and perhaps to swim., "No one wants to say it, but it sure looks like the Red Sox are ... rebuilding," 26 Mar. 2021 Vitrazza offers replacement universal Quiet Comfort office chair caster wheels that are made with soft tread urethane instead of hard plastic. Brad Moon, Forbes, "Review: Vitrazza Glass Office Chair Mat," 27 Feb. 2021 The tread belt measures 20 inches by 55 inches, with cushioning and shock absorbers that are designed to reduce the stress to your feet and hips throughout the deck. Ambar Pardilla, NBC News, "Treadmill safety: How to stay safe on a treadmill at home," 24 Mar. 2021 In that case, the 2,114-mile round trip will eat up $15 in tread. Rich Exner, cleveland, "Here’s how to price compare driving vs. flying on vacation - That’s Rich!," 24 Mar. 2021 Motoring organizations and tire manufacturers recommend a monthly check with a low-cost tire tread gauge. Bob Beacham,, "How often to replace tires," 20 Feb. 2021 The irrigated skidpad allowed for relatively low speeds (and sufficient tread life for the tires) but also upped the challenge for Retera, since the grip tended to be inconsistent. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, "Porsche Taycan Sets Guinness Record for Longest Drift in an Electric Car," 23 Nov. 2020 The studs on the tires prevent the tread from making full contact with the pavement. Field & Stream, "Best Snow Tires: Drive Safely and Confidently in Winter," 26 Feb. 2021 Once in the water tank, Lam was unable to escape and removed her clothing to fight hypothermia or better tread water. Ariana Romero,, "The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel Ending Reveals What Happened To Elisa Lam — & Another Insidious Twist," 11 Feb. 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

8 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tread.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 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

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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

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