tread [tred] ExamplesWord Origin verb (used without object), trod, trod·den or trod, tread·ing.

  1. to set down the foot or feet in walking; step; walk.
  2. to step, walk, or trample so as to press, crush, or injure something (usually followed by on or upon): to tread on a person’s foot.
  3. (of a male bird) to copulate.

verb (used with object), trod, trod·den or trod, tread·ing.

  1. to step or walk on, about, in, or along.
  2. to trample or crush underfoot.
  3. to form by the action of walking or trampling: to tread a path.
  4. to treat with disdainful harshness or cruelty; crush; oppress.
  5. to perform by walking or dancing: to tread a measure.
  6. (of a male bird) to copulate with (a female bird).


  1. the action of treading, stepping, or walking.
  2. the sound of footsteps.
  3. manner of treading or walking.
  4. a single step as in walking.
  5. any of various things or parts on which a person or thing treads, stands, or moves.
  6. the part of the under surface of the foot or of a shoe that touches the ground.
  7. the horizontal upper surface of a step in a stair, on which the foot is placed.
  8. the part of a wheel, tire, or runner that bears on the road, rail, etc.
  9. the pattern raised on or cut into the face of a rubber tire.
  10. Also caterpillar tread. a metal tread on which a Caterpillar-style vehicle moves.
  11. Railroads. that part of a rail in contact with the treads of wheels.


  1. tread on someone’s toes/corns, to offend or irritate someone.
  2. tread the boards, to act on the stage, especially professionally: He recalled the days when he had trod the boards.
  3. tread water,
    1. maintain the body erect in the water with the head above the surface usually by a pumping up-and-down movement of the legs and sometimes the arms.
    2. make efforts that maintain but do not further one’s status, progress, or performance: He’s just treading water here until he can find another job.

Origin of tread before 900; (v.) Middle English treden, Old English tredan; cognate with Old Frisian treda, Old Saxon tredan, Dutch treden, German treten; akin to Old Norse trotha, Gothic trudan; (noun) Middle English tred footprint, derivative of the v.Related formstread·er, nouno·ver·tread, nounsub·tread, noun Examples from the Web for treader Historical Examples of treader

  • Does nature, even in my octogenarian carcase, run too strong that I must be still a bawler and a brawler and a treader upon corns?

    The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson – Swanston Edition Vol. 24 (of 25)

    Robert Louis Stevenson

  • British Dictionary definitions for treader tread verb treads, treading, trod, trodden or trod

    1. to walk or trample in, on, over, or across (something)
    2. (when intr, foll by on) to crush or squash by or as if by treadingto tread grapes; to tread on a spider
    3. (intr sometimes foll by on) to subdue or repress, as by doing injury (to)to tread on one’s inferiors
    4. (tr) to do by walking or dancingto tread a measure
    5. (tr) (of a male bird) to copulate with (a female bird)
    6. tread lightly to proceed with delicacy or tact
    7. tread on someone’s toes to offend or insult someone, esp by infringing on his sphere of action, etc
    8. tread water to stay afloat in an upright position by moving the legs in a walking motion


    1. a manner or style of walking, dancing, etca light tread
    2. the act of treading
    3. the top surface of a step in a staircase
    4. the outer part of a tyre or wheel that makes contact with the road, esp the grooved surface of a pneumatic tyre
    5. the part of a rail that wheels touch
    6. the part of a shoe that is generally in contact with the ground
    7. vet science an injury to a horse’s foot caused by the opposite foot, or the foot of another horse
    8. a rare word for footprint

    Derived Formstreader, nounWord Origin for tread Old English tredan; related to Old Norse trotha , Old High German tretan, Swedish träda Word Origin and History for treader tread v.

    Old English tredan (class V strong verb; past tense træd, past participle treden), from Proto-Germanic *tredanan (cf. Old Frisian treda, Middle Dutch treden, Old High German tretan, German treten, Gothic trudan, Old Norse troða).

    tread n.

    early 13c., from tread (v.); in reference to automobile tires, it is recorded from 1906.

    Idioms and Phrases with treader tread

    In addition to the idioms beginning with tread

  • tread the boards
  • tread water
  • also see:

  • fools rush in where angels fear to tread
  • step (tread) on one’s toes
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