\ 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
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 treadless (audio) \ adjective

Examples of tread in a Sentence


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.


The treads of the tires were badly worn. running shoes with good treads
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The leadership that survived had to tread carefully despite constant and robust support of its colleagues from the majority community, reflected most conspicuously in the close relations between Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Azad. Salman Khurshid, Quartz India, "Rumours, suspicions, fears: What Indian Muslims have battled since Independence," 26 July 2019 But one woman, who lives on Elm Street in Mission, Texas, was recently faced with a situation that tread a little too close to horror movie territory. Lauren Piro, House Beautiful, "What This Woman Found Buried in Her Backyard Will Creep You Out," 26 Oct. 2015 Manager Bruce Bochy is treading carefully with Gustave’s arm. Henry Schulman,, "Giants might have struck gold with Tommy John returnee Jandel Gustave," 22 Aug. 2019 Elements of the climate resolution, which doesn’t have a single Republican co-sponsor, tread further left on the issue than Kirkpatrick has gone in the past. Jeannette Hinkle, azcentral, "Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick backs legislation calling for massive mobilization on climate change," 22 Aug. 2019 For the most part, these companies were treading on terra incognita. Shira Ovide, Los Angeles Times, "Commentary: WeWork is profoundly shocking and odd," 15 Aug. 2019 Since then, however, there's been more legal developments and the changing composition of the Supreme Court has treaded towards a more conservative reading of constitutional law. Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "Wall Street Journal Publisher Tells Supreme Court of Being Victimized by California," 14 Aug. 2019 For many years, dating back to when Hong Kong was a British colony, the authorities have trodden carefully with the village residents. Austin Ramzy, New York Times, "Clashes and Tear Gas as Hong Kong Police Confront Protesters in Yuen Long," 27 July 2019 The restaurant was treading water, and Wood’s attention was focused on trying to expand Woody’s Smorgasburger. Hailey Branson-potts,, "After half a century, Rancho Palos Verdes bids bon voyage to the Admiral Risty restaurant," 3 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Its tread is separating from the carcass of the tire. Mac Demere, Popular Mechanics, "11 Things Your Car Is Trying to Tell You," 2 Aug. 2019 Tanks and infantry vehicles will be on static display near the Lincoln Memorial, trucked in to prevent their treads from damaging the streets. CBS News, "Pentagon gives guidance to troops about what to say at July 4th event," 4 July 2019 Trump will salute America in sight of the two more diminutive, 30-ton Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, painted in woodland camouflage, their treads festooned in navy blue drapes. Bymichael D. Shear,, "Trump defends plans for July Fourth extravaganza as criticism mounts," 3 July 2019 The trail shares part of its tread with the Gandy Dancer through St. Croix Falls. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Beer and a bike ride: 12 breweries along bike trails in Wisconsin," 6 June 2019 The prototype looks like an old-fashioned tire, but has treads in the middle and no sidewalls. Jordan Valinsky, CNN, "Michelin and GM are working on a puncture-proof tire," 5 June 2019 Catherine Deneuve, Loulou de la Falaise, Tilda Swinton, and Haider Ackermann (who recently posted an Instagram of his striped Liwan slippers) are among those who have tread a path to their door. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "This Is the Paris Shop Where Haider Ackermann Buys Slippers," 23 Jan. 2019 Bochy has tread carefully since, starting him on consecutive days just once, not wanting to kill the golden goose. Henry Schulman,, "Giants seeing both sides of Alex Dickerson — the power and the pain," 25 July 2019 The hulking shoes were made to look like a composite of other popular sneakers, bringing together soles, treads, and laces in a monstrous form that could make even Frankenstein cringe. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "We’ve Gotta Have It: The 17 Items that Defined Fashion in the 2010s," 18 July 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.

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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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Statistics for tread

Last Updated

9 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tread

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

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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

Spanish Central: Translation of tread

Nglish: Translation of tread for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tread for Arabic Speakers

Comments on tread

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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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