verb (used without object), trod, trod·den or trod, tread·ing.
verb (used with object), trod, trod·den or trod, tread·ing.
- 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.
- 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.
Origin of tread
verb treads, treading, trod, trodden or trod
Word Origin for tread
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).
early 13c., from tread (v.); in reference to automobile tires, it is recorded from 1906.
tread the boards
Act on the stage, as in Her main ambition was to tread the boards in a big city. This idiom uses boards in the sense of “a theatrical stage,” a usage dating from the mid-1700s. It dates from the mid-1800s but was preceded by the idiom tread the stage, first recorded in 1691.
In addition to the idioms beginning with tread
- tread the boards
- tread water
- fools rush in where angels fear to tread
- step (tread) on one's toes