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Alternative forms



  • IPA(key): /tɹɛd/
  • Audio (US):(file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛd

Etymology 1


From Middle English treden, from Old English tredan, from Proto-West Germanic *tredan, from Proto-Germanic *trudaną.



tread (third-person singular simple present treads, present participle treading, simple past trod or tread or treaded, past participle trodden or trod or tread or treaded)

  1. (intransitive) To step or walk (on or across something); to trample.
    He trod back and forth wearily.
    Don't tread on the lawn.
  2. (transitive) To step or walk upon.
    Actors tread the boards.
  3. (figuratively, with certain adverbs of manner) To proceed, to behave (in a certain manner).
    to tread lightly, to tread gently
    to tread carefully, to tread cautiously, to tread warily
  4. To beat or press with the feet.
    to tread a path; to tread land when too light; a well-trodden path
  5. To work a lever, treadle, etc., with the foot or the feet.
    • 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, translated by H.L. Brækstad, Folk and Fairy Tales, page 251:
      Round about them was a circle of girls and wives of the neighbouring tenants; "they trod the spinning-wheels with diligent feet, or were using the scraping carding-combs," as an author has it.
  6. To go through or accomplish by walking, dancing, etc.
  7. To crush under the foot; to trample in contempt or hatred; to subdue; to repress.
    Synonym: step on
  8. (intransitive) To copulate; said of (especially male) birds.
  9. (transitive, of a male bird) To copulate with.
    • 1927, Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 2 (of 6)[1]:
      Thus, a poultry-breeder describes a hen (colored Dorking) crowing like a cock, only somewhat more harshly, as a cockerel crows, and with an enormous comb, larger than is ever seen in the male. This bird used to try to tread her fellow-hens.
  10. (transitive) To crush grapes with one's feet to make wine
    Synonym: stomp
Usage notes
  • Treaded is not commonly used in the UK and is less common in the US as well. It is apparently used more often in tread water.
  • Tread is sometimes used as a past and past participle, especially in the US.
Derived terms

Etymology 2


From Middle English tred, from treden (to tread).


the tread on a car tyre
the sole of a pair of trainers showing the tread
diagram of a set of steps showing the tread

tread (plural treads)

  1. A step taken with the foot.
  2. A manner of stepping.
  3. The sound made when someone or something is walking.
    • 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde:
      The steps fell lightly and oddly, with a certain swing, for all they went so slowly; it was different indeed from the heavy creaking tread of Henry Jekyll. Utterson sighed. "Is there never anything else?" he asked.
    • 1896, Bret Harte, Barker's Luck and Other Stories:
      But when, after a singularly heavy tread and the jingle of spurs on the platform, the door flew open to the newcomer, he seemed a realization of our worst expectations.
  4. (obsolete) A way; a track or path.
    • c. 1595–1596 (date written), William Shakespeare, “A Midsommer Nights Dreame”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene i]:
      And the queint Mazes in the wanton greene,
      For lacke of tread are vndistinguishable.
  5. (construction) A walking surface in a stairway on which the foot is placed.
    • 1956, Anthony Burgess, Time for a Tiger (The Malayan Trilogy), published 1972, page 25:
      The dog was waiting for him, her paws on the second tread, pere regardant with a happy lolling tongue.
  6. The grooves carved into the face of a tire, used to give the tire traction. [from 1900s]
  7. The grooves on the bottom of a shoe or other footwear, used to give grip or traction.
  8. (biology) The chalaza of a bird's egg; the treadle.
  9. The act of avian copulation in which the male bird mounts the female by standing on her back.
  10. (fortification) The top of the banquette, on which soldiers stand to fire over the parapet.
  11. A bruise or abrasion produced on the foot or ankle of a horse that interferes, or strikes its feet together.
  • (horizontal part of a step): run
  • (antonym(s) of horizontal part of a step): rise, riser
Derived terms
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Further reading