\ ˈspred How to pronounce spread (audio) \
spread; spreading

Definition of spread

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to open or expand over a larger area spread out the map
b : to stretch out : extend spread its wings for flight
2a : to distribute over an area spread fertilizer
b : to distribute over a period or among a group spread the work over a few weeks
c : to apply on a surface spread butter on bread
d(1) : to cover or overlay something with spread the cloth on the table
(2) archaic : to cover completely
e(1) : to prepare or furnish for dining : set spread the table
(2) : serve spread the afternoon tea
3a : to make widely known spread the news
b : to extend the range or incidence of spread a disease
c : diffuse, emit flowers spreading their fragrance
4 : to push apart by weight or force

intransitive verb

1a : to become dispersed, distributed, or scattered
b : to become known or disseminated panic spread rapidly
2 : to grow in length or breadth : expand
3 : to move apart (as from pressure or weight) : separate



Definition of spread (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : the act or process of spreading
b : extent of spreading
2 : something spread out: such as
a : a surface area : expanse
b(1) : a ranch or homestead especially in the western U.S.
(2) Western US : a herd of animals
c(1) : a prominent display in a periodical
(2) : two facing pages (as of a newspaper) usually with matter running across the fold also : the matter occupying these pages
3 : something spread on or over a surface: such as
a : a food to be spread (as on bread or crackers) a cheese spread
b : a sumptuous meal : feast
c : a cloth cover for a table or bed
4 : distance between two points : gap
5 : a commodities market transaction in which a participant hedges with simultaneous long and short options in different commodities or different delivery dates in the same commodity

Other Words from spread


spreadability \ ˌspre-​də-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce spread (audio) \ noun
spreadable \ ˈspre-​də-​bəl How to pronounce spread (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for spread

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of spread in a Sentence

Verb The newspaper was spread across his lap. Her notes were spread all over the desk. Help me spread the cloth on the table. We spread fertilizer on our yard. The seeds are spread by wind, birds, and animals. The fire spread quickly through the building. The cancer has spread to her throat. The use of computer technology has spread into all fields of work. The odor spread throughout the room. The fashion quickly spread from France to England. Noun She offered crackers and a cheese spread. He uses low-fat spread on his toast. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Pat salmon lightly dry with paper towels and spread half of lime-mayo or lime-coconut milk over salmon and place pan back in oven. Kim Sunée, Anchorage Daily News, 19 May 2022 Patients will usually need to stay in a specialist hospital so infection doesn’t spread and general symptoms can be treated. Time, 19 May 2022 That claim is similar to ones spread by Chinese officials who sought to blame the U.S. for the COVID-19 pandemic. David Klepper, ajc, 19 May 2022 Those funds and similar vehicles spread risk and keep fees low. C. Boyden Gray And Jonathan Berry, WSJ, 19 May 2022 Word soon spread and the next day the twins ended up at the local sheriff's office reporting they had been raped. Lauren Turner Dunn, CBS News, 19 May 2022 The device also has illuminated touch controls spread around the Speak 750’s central speaker and these can be used to alter volume levels, end calls or mute the microphone when needed. Mark Sparrow, Forbes, 18 May 2022 The National Weather Service says to expect rain to spread inland and give a good shot of moisture to northwest Oregon and southwest Washington through the morning. oregonlive, 18 May 2022 Elizabeth Sockwell, a board member of Green Newton and founder of the 4C Tree Project, said Earth Day gives Newton the opportunity to spread more awareness and reach out to residents to bring about change. Taylor Coester And Alanis Broussard, BostonGlobe.com, 18 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But in early April, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the expulsions were no longer necessary to curb the spread of the coronavirus because of improving pandemic conditions, including higher vaccination rates in the U.S. and Latin America. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, 20 May 2022 Biden won the 2020 election over former President Donald Trump in part because he was seen as a stabilizing force who could more effectively curb the spread of Covid-19. Julian Zelizer, CNN, 20 May 2022 But as fewer people don masks and restrictions to curb the spread of the virus are removed, infections are spiking again. Jenna Carlesso, Hartford Courant, 20 May 2022 Government staff disinfect the floor of Pyongyang station on Tuesday to try and curb the spread of Covid in North Korea's capital. Jennifer Jett, NBC News, 18 May 2022 New York City officials are recommending residents wear masks in indoor public spaces amid climbing Covid-19 cases in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. Jennifer Calfas, WSJ, 16 May 2022 The decades-old policy was invoked during the Trump administration to curb the spread of COVID-19. Sarah Parvinistaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 11 May 2022 Congress has proposed legislation to curb the spread of fake news. Ana Ionova, The Christian Science Monitor, 9 May 2022 China’s use of lockdowns to curb the spread of new COVID cases has kept cinemas in many parts of the country closed for several weeks. Patrick Frater, Variety, 2 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spread.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of spread


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for spread


Middle English spreden, from Old English -sprǣdan; akin to Old High German spreiten to spread

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Time Traveler for spread

Time Traveler

The first known use of spread was in the 13th century

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Dictionary Entries Near spread

spray therapy



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Statistics for spread

Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Spread.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spread. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for spread


\ ˈspred How to pronounce spread (audio) \
spread; spreading

Kids Definition of spread

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to stretch out : extend I spread my arms wide.
2 : to pass or cause to pass from person to person The news spread rapidly. Flies can spread disease.
3 : to open or arrange over a larger area The captain spread out a map.
4 : to increase in size or occurrence The fire keeps spreading. Cell phone use spread quickly.
5 : to scatter or be scattered spread fertilizer
6 : to give out over a period of time or among a group The boss spread work to make it last.
7 : to put or have a layer of on a surface He spread butter on bread.
8 : to cover something with Mom spread a cloth on the table.
9 : to stretch or move apart I spread my fingers open.
10 : to prepare for a meal : set The table was spread for dinner.



Kids Definition of spread (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act or process of increasing in size, amount, or occurrence the spread of education
2 : the distance between two points that are farthest to each side the spread of a bird's wings
3 : a noticeable display in a magazine or newspaper
4 : a food to be put over the surface of bread or crackers cheese spread
5 : a very fine meal : feast
6 : a cloth cover for a table or bed



Legal Definition of spread

1a : the difference between any two prices for similar articles the spread between the list price and the market price of an article
b : the difference between the highest and lowest prices of a product or security for a given period
c : the difference between bid and asked prices (as of a stock)
2a : a simultaneous put option and call option in which the put price and the call price differ so that no profit is made unless the price falls below or rises above the put or call price respectively by more than enough to cover the cost of the option also : the difference between the put price and call price
b : a transaction in which a participant hedges with simultaneous long and short options in different commodities or different delivery dates in the same commodity
3 : an arbitrage transaction operated by buying and selling simultaneously in two markets when there is an abnormal difference in price between the two markets also : the difference in price
4 : the difference between the yields on investments in fixed-income securities equal in quality but with different maturity dates or with the same maturity dates but unequal quality

More from Merriam-Webster on spread

Nglish: Translation of spread for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spread for Arabic Speakers


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