1. George,1733–98, American political leader: served in the Continental Congress 1774–77.
  2. Sir Herbert,1893–1968, English critic and poet.
  3. a male given name: from an Old English word meaning “red.” Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for sir herbert read


verb reads, reading or read (rɛd)
  1. to comprehend the meaning of (something written or printed) by looking at and interpreting the written or printed characters
  2. to be occupied in such an activityhe was reading all day
  3. (when tr , often foll by out) to look at, interpret, and speak aloud (something written or printed)he read to us from the Bible
  4. (tr) to interpret the significance or meaning of through scrutiny and recognitionhe read the sky and predicted rain; to read a map
  5. (tr) to interpret or understand the meaning of (signs, characters, etc) other than by visual meansto read Braille
  6. (tr) to have sufficient knowledge of (a language) to understand the written or printed worddo you read German?
  7. (tr) to discover or make out the true nature or mood ofto read someone's mind
  8. to interpret or understand (something read) in a specified way, or (of something read) to convey a particular meaning or impressionI read this speech as satire; this book reads well
  9. (tr) to adopt as a reading in a particular passagefor ``boon'' read ``bone''
  10. (intr) to have or contain a certain form or wordingthe sentence reads as follows
  11. to undertake a course of study in (a subject)to read history; read for the bar
  12. to gain knowledge by readinghe read about the war
  13. (tr) to register, indicate, or showthe meter reads 100
  14. (tr) to bring or put into a specified condition by readingto read a child to sleep
  15. (tr) to hear and understand, esp when using a two-way radiowe are reading you loud and clear
  16. computing to obtain (data) from a storage device, such as magnetic tapeCompare write (def. 16)
  17. (tr) to understand (written or printed music) by interpretation of the notes on the staff and to be able to reproduce the musical sounds represented by these notes
  18. read a lesson or read a lecture informal to censure or reprimand, esp in a long-winded manner
  19. read between the lines to perceive or deduce a meaning that is hidden or implied rather than being openly stated
  20. you wouldn't read about it Australian informal an expression of dismay, disgust, or disbelief
  1. matter suitable for readingthis new book is a very good read
  2. the act of reading

Word Origin for read

Old English rǣdan to advise, explain; related to Old Frisian rēda, Old High German rātan, Gothic garēdan


  1. the past tense and past participle of read 1
  1. having knowledge gained from books (esp in the phrases widely read, well-read)
  2. take something as read to take something for granted as a fact; understand or presume
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for sir herbert read



"an act of reading," 1825, from read (v.).



1580s, "having knowledge gained from reading," in well-read, etc., past participle adjective from read (v.).



Old English rædan (West Saxon), redan (Anglian) "to advise, counsel, persuade; discuss, deliberate; rule, guide; arrange, equip; forebode; read, explain; learn by reading; put in order" (related to ræd, red "advice"), from Proto-Germanic *raedanan (cf. Old Norse raða, Old Frisian reda, Dutch raden, Old High German ratan, German raten "to advise, counsel, guess"), from PIE root *re(i)- "to reason, count" (cf. Sanskrit radh- "to succeed, accomplish," Greek arithmos "number amount," Old Church Slavonic raditi "to take thought, attend to," Old Irish im-radim "to deliberate, consider"). Words from this root in most modern Germanic languages still mean "counsel, advise."

Sense of "make out the character of (a person)" is attested from 1610s. Connected to riddle via notion of "interpret." Transference to "understand the meaning of written symbols" is unique to Old English and (perhaps under English influence) Old Norse raða. Most languages use a word rooted in the idea of "gather up" as their word for "read" (cf. French lire, from Latin legere). Read up "study" is from 1842; read out (v.) "expel by proclamation" (Society of Friends) is from 1788. read-only in computer jargon is recorded from 1961.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with sir herbert read


In addition to the idioms beginning with read

  • read a lecture
  • read between the lines
  • read into
  • read like an open book
  • read out of
  • read someone's mind
  • read the riot act
  • read up

also see:

  • do you read me
  • open book, read like an
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.