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From Middle English spreden, from Old English sprǣdan (to spread, expand), from Proto-Germanic *spraidijaną (to spread), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)per- (to strew, sow, sprinkle). Cognate with Saterland Frisian spreede (to spread), West Frisian spriede (to spread), North Frisian spriedjen (to spread), Dutch spreiden (to spread), Low German spreden (to spread), German spreiten (to spread, spread out), Norwegian spre, spreie (to spread, disseminate), Swedish sprida (to spread), Latin spernō, spargō, Ancient Greek σπείρω (speírō), Persian سپردن(sepordan, to deposit), English spurn.


  • IPA(key): /spɹɛd/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛd


spread (third-person singular simple present spreads, present participle spreading, simple past and past participle spread)

  1. (transitive) To stretch out, open out (a material etc.) so that it more fully covers a given area of space. [from 13th c.]
    He spread his newspaper on the table.
  2. (transitive) To extend (individual rays, limbs etc.); to stretch out in varying or opposing directions. [from 13th c.]
    I spread my arms wide and welcomed him home.
  3. (transitive) To disperse, to scatter or distribute over a given area. [from 13th c.]
    I spread the rice grains evenly over the floor.
  4. (intransitive) To proliferate; to become more widely present, to be disseminated. [from 13th c.]
    • 2008, Wikipedia: Age of Enlightenment:
      The movement spread through much of Europe, including Russia and Scandinavia.
    • 2013 July 20, “Old soldiers?”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8845:
      Whether modern, industrial man is less or more warlike than his hunter-gatherer ancestors is impossible to determine. [] One thing that is true, though, is that murder rates have fallen over the centuries, as policing has spread and the routine carrying of weapons has diminished. Modern society may not have done anything about war. But peace is a lot more peaceful.
  5. (transitive) To disseminate; to cause to proliferate, to make (something) widely known or present. [from 14th c.]
    The missionaries quickly spread their new message across the country.
  6. (intransitive) To take up a larger area or space; to expand, be extended. [from 14th c.]
    I dropped my glass; the water spread quickly over the tiled floor.
  7. (transitive) To smear, to distribute in a thin layer. [from 16th c.]
    She liked to spread butter on her toast while it was still hot.
  8. (transitive) To cover (something) with a thin layer of some substance, as of butter. [from 16th c.]
    He always spreads his toast with peanut butter and strawberry jam.
  9. To prepare; to set and furnish with provisions.
    to spread a table
  10. (intransitive, slang) To open one’s legs, especially for sexual favours. [from 20th c.]
    • 1984, Martin Amis, Money:
      This often sounds like the rap of a demented DJ: the way she moves has got to be good news, can't get loose till I feel the juice— suck and spread, bitch, yeah bounce for me baby.
    • 1991, Tori Amos, Me and a Gun:
      Yes I wore a slinky red thing. Does that mean I should spread for you, your friends, your father, Mr Ed?
    • 2003, Outkast, "Spread" (from the album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below):
      I don't want to move too fast, but / Can't resist your sexy ass / Just spread, spread for me; / (I can't, I can't wait to get you home)


Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


spread (countable and uncountable, plural spreads)

  1. The act of spreading.
    • 1631, [Francis Bacon], “(please specify |century=I to X)”, in Sylua Syluarum: Or A Naturall Historie. In Ten Centuries. [], 3rd edition, London: [] VVilliam Rawley; [p]rinted by J[ohn] H[aviland] for William Lee [], OCLC 1044372886:
      No flower hath that kind of spread that the woodbine hath.
  2. Something that has been spread.
  3. (cartomancy) A layout, pattern or design of cards arranged for a reading.
  4. An expanse of land.
    • November 29, 1712, Andrew Freeport, a letter to The Spectator
      I have got a fine spread of improvable lands.
  5. A large tract of land used to raise livestock; a cattle ranch.
    • 2005, Brokeback Mountain (film), 00:11:50:
      - Can’t wait till I get my own spread and won’t have to put up with Joe Aguirre’s crap no more.
      - I’m savin’ for a place myself.
  6. A piece of material used as a cover (such as a bedspread).
    • 1975, Douglas Matthews, ‎Suzanne Wymelenberg, ‎Susan Cheever Cowley, Secondhand is Better (page 166)
      Linen shawls and spreads show up in secondhand clothing stores like those in the row on St. Marks Place in New York City.
  7. A large meal, especially one laid out on a table.
  8. (bread, etc.) Any form of food designed to be spread, such as butters or jams.
  9. (prison slang, uncountable) Food improvised by inmates from various ingredients to relieve the tedium of prison food.
    Synonym: swole
  10. An item in a newspaper or magazine that occupies more than one column or page.
  11. Two facing pages in a book, newspaper etc.
  12. A numerical difference.
  13. (business, economics) The difference between the wholesale and retail prices.
  14. (trading, economics, finance) The difference between the price of a futures month and the price of another month of the same commodity.
  15. (trading, finance) The purchase of a futures contract of one delivery month against the sale of another futures delivery month of the same commodity.
  16. (trading, finance) The purchase of one delivery month of one commodity against the sale of that same delivery month of a different commodity.
  17. (trading) An arbitrage transaction of the same commodity in two markets, executed to take advantage of a profit from price discrepancies.
  18. (trading) The difference between bidding and asking price.
  19. (finance) The difference between the prices of two similar items.
  20. (geometry) An unlimited expanse of discontinuous points.
  21. The surface in proportion to the depth of a cut gemstone.



Further reading[edit]




English spread


spread m (invariable)

  1. (trading, finance) The difference between returns or between quotations of multiple securities or of the same security over the course of a day.
  2. A contract awarding which offers the buyer the widest range of bargaining possibilities.