View synonyms for tread


[ tred ]

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 caterpillar 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.


/ trɛd /


  1. to walk or trample in, on, over, or across (something)
  2. whenintr, foll by on to crush or squash by or as if by treading

    to tread on a spider

    to tread grapes

  3. intrsometimes foll byon to subdue or repress, as by doing injury (to)

    to tread on one's inferiors

  4. tr to do by walking or dancing

    to tread a measure

  5. tr (of a male bird) to copulate with (a female bird)
  6. tread lightly
    tread lightly to proceed with delicacy or tact
  7. tread on someone's toes
    tread on someone's toes to offend or insult someone, esp by infringing on his sphere of action, etc
  8. tread water
    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, etc

    a 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

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Derived Forms

  • ˈtreader, noun

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Other Words From

  • tread·er noun
  • o·ver·tread noun
  • sub·tread noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of tread1

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.

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Word History and Origins

Origin of tread1

Old English tredan ; related to Old Norse trotha , Old High German tretan , Swedish träda

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Idioms and Phrases

  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. Swimming. to 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. Slang. to 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.

  4. tread lightly / carefully / softly. tread lightly.

More idioms and phrases containing tread

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

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Example Sentences

Every bottle of water, every shell, every replacement tank tread had to be shipped from continental Europe across the Mediterranean to North Africa.

From Time

Tires must be inflated properly, and a good tread depth will help with traction on wet roads.

Bergeson says that Toyo uses different compound materials for the two categories of tires, as well as different tread designs.

The pattern of that tread will also be designed to grip loose surfaces, while evacuating water, mud, small rocks, and snow as efficiently as possible.

To merit this stamp, a two-dimensional analysis of a tire’s tread pattern must demonstrate that at least 25 percent of the tread’s surface area is made up of grooves.

We feel their strangeness when we read their words—they lived on a plane where few dare to tread.

It really set the tone for the second half of Season 5, ending with that great “tread lightly” encounter between Hank and Walt.

The interim, however, is ours, and here we must tread carefully.

The moral philosopher Michael Sandel observed, “Fundamentalists rush in where liberals fear to tread.”

She says that Italy must tread carefully not to allow this to happen.

Their heads might have been turned upside-down, so absolutely did they tread upon blue ether.

You know MacRae, Lyn; it's mighty poor business for any man to tread on his toes, much less go walking rough-shod all over him.

At last, some one came, a man, and his firm tread of boot-shod feet betokened a soldier.

He shall not tread out wine in the press that was wont to tread it out: the voice of the treaders I have taken away.

The lowing of cattle and the soft stumbling tread of many unshod feet told him that some one was approaching.


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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.