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.
Expend effort that maintains one's status but does not make much progress toward a goal, as in He was just treading water from paycheck to paycheck. This idiom alludes to the term's literal meaning, that is, “keep one's head above water by remaining upright and pumping the legs.”
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