Definition of spread in English:

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Pronunciation: /spred/

verb (past and past participle spread)

1 [with object] Open out (something) so as to extend its surface area, width, or length: I spread a towel on the sand and sat down she helped Chris to spread out the map
More example sentences
  • During such occasions it is usually the flag dancer who handles the flag or explains it in the presence of others in the company, who may help him spread it out.
lay out, open out, unfurl, unroll, roll out;
straighten out, fan out;
stretch out, extend
literary outspread
1.1Stretch out (arms, legs, hands, fingers, or wings) so that they are far apart: the swan spread its wings
More example sentences
  • And both men, talking to Marion, make a long, strong movement with their hands - Sam spreads both arms wide to agree with her, Norman's right arm will reach to a small, stuffed, nocturnal bird.
  • At times, Adamma leapt up in the air with knees still bent and spread her arms wide.
  • To make a roll, spread the fingers of the opposite hand wide apart and make them rigid.
2 [no object, with adverbial] Extend over a large or increasing area: she stood at the window looking at the town spread out below
More example sentences
  • Belly hair spreads over the area between belly-button and top pants button.
  • This invasive weed from southeast Asia covers more than 7 million U.S. acres and spreads across about 120,000 more each year.
  • Disease then develops in the stalk and rapidly spreads up the stalk and into the leaves.
2.1 (spread out) (Of a group of people) move apart so as to cover a wider area: the Marines spread out across the docks
More example sentences
  • Poignantly stated and played, the two guitarists spread out and cover the space.
  • The fleet spreads out over the sea and orders are given to raise the anchors and run the sails up the masts.
  • Each member of the family spreads out into the community where they encounter other people that are equally unhappy.
2.2 [with object and adverbial] Distribute or disperse (something) over a certain area: volcanic eruptions spread dust high into the stratosphere
More example sentences
  • ‘The wider the coverage, the less light the bulb projects because you are spreading the same amount of output over a larger area,’ explained Scott.
  • Frequently observed in connection with cabin groups is a tendency to spread the effects of their presence over a needlessly large area.
  • The living quarters and studio spaces are spread around these two main parts.
scatter, strew, disperse, distribute
2.3Gradually reach or cause to reach a larger and larger area or more and more people: [no object]: the violence spread from the city to the suburbs [with object]: she’s always spreading rumors about other people
More example sentences
  • There is merely an earnest desire to spread some Yuletide fun and to tell a straightforward story of devotion, determination, and delight.
  • I just think it really spreads the word for our designs.
  • Already people are volunteering to work with him on it, and once word spreads it seems likely that Johnnie will have more cast and crew than he knows what to do with.
disseminate, circulate, pass on, put about, communicate, diffuse, make public, make known, purvey, broadcast, publicize, propagate, promulgate;
literary bruit about/abroad
2.4(Of people, animals, or plants) become distributed over a large or larger area: the owls have spread as far north as Yellowknife
More example sentences
  • Such corridors allow links between ecologically protected areas, so that plants and animals can spread from one to another and form a network.
  • He hoped the roots would harbor the fungi and spread them throughout the compost, but the fungi didn't spread well enough.
  • In tact, climbing fern is spreading so rapidly that it's now the state's worst invasive weed.
2.5 [with object and adverbial] Distribute (something) in a specified way: you can spread the payments over as long a period as you like
More example sentences
  • In fairness, he spreads his venom equally between her and the other subjects of his book.
  • Splitting the gig up into an acoustic and an electric set gave them the opportunity to spread the gig over two hours.
3 [with object and adverbial] Apply (a substance) to an object or surface in an even layer: he sighed, spreading jam on a croissant
More example sentences
  • The 3D printer spreads one thin layer of powder over the print bed, then passes over the powder just as an inkjet printer head passes over paper.
smear, daub, plaster, slather, lather, apply, put;
smooth, rub
3.1Cover (a surface) with a substance in an even layer: spread each slice thinly with mayonnaise
cover, coat, layer, daub;
3.2 [no object, with adverbial] Be able to be applied in an even layer: the whipped butter spreads easily
More example sentences
  • New Land O'Lakes Spreadable Butter with Canola oil is ready to spread right out of the refrigerator, with no need to soften.
4 [with object] archaic Lay (a table) for a meal.
Example sentences
  • On November 25, 2003, we sat down with family and friends around a table spread with food we grew and said thanks.


1The fact or process of spreading over an area: the spread of AIDS the spread of the urban population into rural areas
More example sentences
  • By a skilful use of maps and charts the author traces the development and spread of various religious movements, from the early Spanish Franciscans to the latest absurd creation.
  • For decades, the UN has led efforts to control the development and spread of such weapons.
  • With the emergence and spread of AIDS in Japan in the 1980s, insensitivity toward gay men heightened.
expansion, proliferation, extension, growth;
dissemination, diffusion, transmission, propagation
2The extent, width, or area covered by something: the male’s antlers can attain a spread of six feet
More example sentences
  • The planting hole should be larger than the spread of the root mass.
span, width, extent, stretch, reach
2.1The wingspan of a bird.
2.2An expanse or amount of something: the green spread of the park
expanse, area, sweep, stretch
2.3North American A large farm or ranch.
3The range or variety of something: a wide spread of ages
More example sentences
  • Maybe that means greater audience spread and fewer must-see shows.
  • Faces in the Crowd offers a wonderfully various and intelligently chosen spread of images.
range, span, spectrum, sweep;
3.1The difference between two rates or prices: the very narrow spread between borrowing and deposit rates
More example sentences
  • Fluctuations in price spreads suggest relative variation in consumer demand and cattle supply entering the food chain.
  • Financial industry debt spreads were widening meaningfully as well.
  • The study will look at retail prices, price spreads and movement of livestock markets.
3.2 short for point spread.
4A soft paste that can be applied in a layer to bread or other food.
Example sentences
  • Several others are use patents for direct incorporation into human foods as ingredients or spreads.
  • The cheese might be intended for individual slices, blocks or loaves for shredding, spreads, sauces, fillings, pastes or as industrial food ingredients.
  • In the spreads category, Lactoprot is developing upscale, high-end flavor profiles with cheese spreads in flavor combinations such as pepper and bacon or cheddar and smoked turkey.
5An article or advertisement covering several columns or pages of a newspaper or magazine, especially one on two facing pages: a double-page spread
More example sentences
  • Running as part of an extensive magazine spread, the newspaper speculated that Foster was about to become Britain's first sidewalk surfing tycoon.
  • The book dummies, storyboards, jacket covers, and double page spreads were proudly displayed, still smelling strongly of glue and fixatives.
  • And then we see Double Game's final two pages: a color spread of Calle's smile.
5.1North American A bedspread.
Example sentences
  • She covered his body with the chenille spread and went inside to phone the undertaker.
6 informal A large and impressively elaborate meal.
Example sentences
  • Fiftyish, 350-pound art dealers in suits ‘eat’ huge banquet spreads, gorging themselves with the sloppy abandon of famished Vikings, only to discover the food is merely a hallucination.
  • The organizer of the event promises laughter and ‘a good spread of food and drink.’
  • Yes, she's gone to an awful lot of trouble to assemble all your favourite people and prepare a lavish spread.
large/elaborate meal, feast, banquet
informal blowout, nosh



spread like wildfire


spread oneself too thin

Be involved in so many different activities or projects that one’s time and energy are not used to good effect.
Example sentences
  • As awesome as it is to be the girl who does it all, spreading yourself too thin will only leave you overstressed and underproductive.
  • Sadly, even Jones realised you can spread yourself too thin, often leading to poor choices.
  • But it can't do that effectively if it spread itself too thin.

spread one's wings

see wing.



Example sentences
  • It was flavoursome without being heavy and spreadable without being too soft, said my dining partner.
  • In natural peanut butter, some of the peanut oil rises to the top of the jar, and stirring it back in does more than make the peanut butter creamy and spreadable.
  • This spreadable cheese is cured in crocks and used like butter.


Old English -sprǣdan (used in combinations); related to Dutch spreiden and German spreiten.

Words that rhyme with spread

abed, ahead, bed, behead, Birkenhead, bled, bread, bred, coed, cred, crossbred, dead, dread, Ed, embed, Enzed, fed, fled, Fred, gainsaid, head, infrared, ked, lead, led, Med, misled, misread, Ned, outspread, premed, pure-bred, read, red, redd, said, samoyed, shed, shred, sked, sled, sped, Spithead, stead, ted, thread, tread, underbred, underfed, wed

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: spread

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