Definition of tread in English:

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Pronunciation: /trɛd/

verb (past trod /trɒd/; past participle trodden /ˈtrɒd(ə)n/ or trod)

[no object, with adverbial]
1Walk in a specified way: Rosa trod as lightly as she could figurative the government had to tread carefully so as not to offend the judiciary
More example sentences
  • It's also clear to see how Amanda's brief motocross career prepared her for making strides in sports where women have to tread carefully so not to step on macho male toes.
  • In the face of these foreboding signs of very troubled times, it is difficult to imagine why governments in the Caribbean, and more so ours, are rushing in where fools tread carefully.
  • Participants are instructed in the ‘correct’ ways to engage with people of other cultural groups and how to tread carefully around their different values.
walk, step, stride, pace, go;
march, tramp, plod, stomp, trudge
1.1 (tread on) chiefly British Set one’s foot down on top of: the youth stumbled and trod on Harry’s shoe
More example sentences
  • But the designer decided to withdraw the shoes over fears they could become a lethal weapon if the wearer accidentally trod on someone else's foot, the Daily Telegraph reported.
  • In fact, Ronaldo was pushed backwards and trod on my foot.
  • The soldiers, treading on Rowdon's bare feet, forced him from the inn and into the frozen night.
1.2 [with object] Walk on or along: shoppers will soon be treading the floors of the new shopping mall
More example sentences
  • This left him treading a narrow path along which private control and economic incentives might be preserved and yet society could obtain its full due by the complete expropriation of Ricardian rent.
  • You have to forge along, carefully treading a new way, trusting that your sense of direction has you going toward the right destination.
  • But I hope to show they embody beauty because of the way they have spent their days walking paths trodden by their grandparents.
1.3 [with object and adverbial] Press down or crush with the feet: food had been trodden into the carpet
More example sentences
  • Crops are being mysteriously trodden down by unknown forces.
  • They were trodden down by churchmen and nobility alike.
  • Crushing was traditionally done by foot, by treading grapes thinly spread on a crushing floor slanted towards a drain and bounded by low walls to prevent the loss of juice.
crush, flatten, press down, squash;
trample on, tramp on, step on, stamp on, stomp on


1 [in singular] A person’s manner of walking or the sound made as they walk: I heard the heavy tread of Dad’s boots
More example sentences
  • A moment later the front door opened and Ben heard the heavy tread of Hoss's boots against the porch boards.
  • As he continued, now hoping that someone would notice him and offer assistance, he thought he heard the sound of a familiar tread.
  • There is no noise, until one hears the soft, heavy tread of a large woman, walking slowly to the chair, and with great care lowering herself onto the chair.
step, footstep, footfall, tramp
2 (also tread board) The top surface of a step or stair.
Example sentences
  • Designers often use glass tiles as decorative accents in backsplashes, showers, pool borders, floors, and even on the risers between stair treads.
  • Cut through the middle of any damaged stair treads to remove it.
  • The same rubber, but in gray, covers the stair treads.
3The thick moulded part of a vehicle tyre that grips the road.
Example sentences
  • Also make sure that your tyres have proper treads and are not as finished as the body of a snake.
  • They are still vulnerable to aquaplaning because of their shallower tread depth, but on a plain wet road without big puddles, their grip is now no worse than a normal road tyre whose tread has been worn to a similar depth.
  • The surface was like a thick clay which clogged up the tyre treads, turning them into slicks.
3.1The part of a wheel that touches the ground or a rail.
Example sentences
  • The treads give added mobility over predecessors with conventional wheels, allowing it to travel over thick carpet.
3.2The upper surface of a railway track, in contact with the wheels.
4The part of the sole of a shoe that rests on the ground.
Example sentences
  • At least one of us will step in a pile of dog dirt which will have to be laboriously extracted from the shoe treads with a stick once we get home.
  • Ditch your old pair when the tread or heel wear out, and invest in shoes that offer the best support.
  • It is fairly close to a road shoe in terms of build and design but with some key differences, like its extra-firm heel, quick-dry outsoles and high-traction treads.



tread the boards (or stage)

see board.

tread on air

see air.

tread (or chiefly North American step) on someone's toes

Offend someone by encroaching on their area of responsibility: I have no wish to tread on the toes of colleagues with local interests
More example sentences
  • Pull her aside and ask her to agree to a secret code word or signal (a scratch of the nose) that says, ‘Bud, you're stepping on my toes.’
  • I couldn't leave the room without stepping on his toes.
  • We weren't quite as cool as Amelia and Katie so we couldn't step on their toes or we'd be knocked clear down the popularity pole.

tread water

Maintain an upright position in deep water by moving the feet with a walking movement and the hands with a downward circular motion: they were at the deep end of the pool and trod water to keep afloat
More example sentences
  • The skipper treads water as a Navy diver waits for a line to be thrown from the Oryx helicopter.
  • Her head popped up from under the water and she laughed, treading water as he walked through the waves out to her.
  • We were treading water in a large water basin in a generator room.
4.1Fail to make progress: men who are treading water in their careers
More example sentences
  • So when you see the elites floating away in their yachts while you're barely treading water, before you get angry, take a moment to feel their pain.
  • Brando trod water a lot, so I might go for Mitchum.
  • With a 10th win in 11 league games assured, the Old Trafford aristocrats trod water slightly after the interval.



Example sentences
  • According to eager treaders, it is a sensual treat.
  • Hoping that this sets a new trend, we are looking forward to more board treaders being caught unaware on canvas in the following months.
  • It would be unfair to select any one of the cast for special mention as from the youngest to the oldest treader of the boards, they all played their part.


Old English tredan (as a verb), of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch treden and German treten.

  • trade from Late Middle English:

    Trade came from German and is related to tread (Old English). It originally meant ‘a track or way’, and then ‘a way of life’, and ‘a skilled handicraft’—the ‘buying and selling’ sense dates from the 16th century. A trade wind has nothing to do with commerce. The term arose in the mid 17th century from blow trade ‘to blow steadily in the same direction’, or along the same course or track. Sailors thought that many winds blew in this way, but as navigation technology improved they realized that there are only two belts of trade winds proper, blowing steadily towards the equator from the northeast in the northern hemisphere and from the southeast in the southern hemisphere.

Words that rhyme with tread

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, spread, stead, ted, thread, underbred, underfed, wed

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Line breaks: tread

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