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

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English treden, from Old English tredan (to tread, step on, trample, traverse, pass over, enter upon, roam through), from Proto-Germanic *tredaną, *trudaną. Cognate with West Frisian trêdzje, Low German treden, Dutch treden, German treten, Danish træde, Swedish träda, Norwegian Bokmål trå, Norwegian Nynorsk trø.


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

  1. (intransitive) To step or walk (on or over something); to trample.
    He trod back and forth wearily.
    Don't tread on the lawn.
    • Alexander Pope
      Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
    • Milton
      ye that [] stately tread, or lowly creep
  2. (transitive) To step or walk upon.
    Actors tread the boards.
  3. To beat or press with the feet.
    to tread a path; to tread land when too light; a well-trodden path
  4. To go through or accomplish by walking, dancing, etc.
    • Beaumont and Fletcher
      I am resolved to forsake Malta, tread a pilgrimage to fair Jerusalem.
    • Shakespeare
      They have measured many a mile, / To tread a measure with you on this grass.
  5. To crush under the foot; to trample in contempt or hatred; to subdue.
    • Bible, Psalms xliv. 5
      Through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us.
  6. (intransitive) To copulate; said of (especially male) birds.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
  7. (transitive, of a male bird) To copulate with.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Chaucer to this entry?)
Usage notes[edit]
  • 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[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From the above verb.


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.
  2. A manner of stepping.
    • Tennyson
      She is coming, my own, my sweet; / Were it ever so airy a tread, / My heart would hear her and beat.
  3. (obsolete) A way; a track or path.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
  4. The grooves carved into the face of a tire, used to give the tire traction. [from 1900s]
  5. The grooves on the bottom of a shoe or other footwear, used to give grip or traction.
  6. The horizontal part of a step in a flight of stairs.
  7. 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.
  8. (biology) The chalaza of a bird's egg; the treadle.
  9. The act of copulation in birds.
  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
Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]