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From Middle English dreden, from Old English drǣdan (to fear, dread), aphetic form of ondrǣdan (to fear, dread), from and- +‎ rǣdan (whence read); corresponding to an aphesis of earlier adread.

Akin to Old Saxon antdrādan, andrādan (to fear, dread), Old High German intrātan (to fear), Middle High German entrāten (to fear, dread, frighten).


  • enPR: drĕd, IPA(key): /dɹɛd/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛd


dread (third-person singular simple present dreads, present participle dreading, simple past and past participle dreaded)

  1. (transitive) To fear greatly.
  2. To anticipate with fear.
    I'm dreading getting the results of the test, as it could decide my whole life.
  3. (intransitive) To be in dread, or great fear.
  4. (transitive) To style (the hair) into dreadlocks.

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dread (countable and uncountable, plural dreads)

  1. Great fear in view of impending evil; fearful apprehension of danger; anticipatory terror.
    my visit to the doctor is filling me with dread
  2. Reverential or respectful fear; awe.
  3. Somebody or something dreaded.
  4. (obsolete) A person highly revered.
  5. (obsolete) Fury; dreadfulness.
  6. A Rastafarian.
  7. (chiefly in the plural) dreadlock
    • 2006, Earl Stevens, Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels (lyrics), Lil Jon (music), “Tell Me When To Go”, in My Ghetto Report Card:
      Jesus Christ had dreads / So shake 'em / I ain't got none / But I'm planning on growing some.

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dread (comparative dreader, superlative dreadest)

  1. Terrible; greatly feared; dreaded.
    • 1879, Arthur Sullivan, The Pirates of Penzance, Gilbert & Sullivan:
      With cat-like tread / Upon our prey we steal / In silence dread / Our cautious way we feel
    • 1887, H. Rider Haggard, She: A History of Adventure[2]:
      I even remember thinking that no human being would go down that dread path again.
    • 1980, Donald Fagen; Walter Becker (lyrics and music), "Glamour Profession" in Gaucho, track 3: "Jack with his radar / Stalking the dread moray eel"
  2. (archaic) Awe-inspiring; held in fearful awe.
    • 1633, John Hay, editor, The Acts Made in the First Parliament of our Most High and Dread Soveraigne Charles, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britaine, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c.: Holden by Himselfe, Present in Person, with His Three Estates, at Edinburgh, upon the Twentie Eight Day of Iune, Anno Domini 1633, Edinburgh: Printed by Robert Young, printer to the Kings most excellent Maiestie, OCLC 606535094:
      The acts made in the first Parliament of our most high and dread soveraigne Charles [I], by the grace of God, King of Great Britaine, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, &c. [] [book title]

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dread m (plural dreads)

  1. Clipping of dreadlock.