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  1. an apparatus for producing rotary motion by the weight of people or animals, treading on a succession of moving steps or a belt that forms a kind of continuous path, as around the periphery of a pair of horizontal cylinders.
  2. an exercise machine that allows the user to walk or run in place, usually on a continuous moving belt.
  3. any monotonous, wearisome routine in which there is little or no satisfactory progress.

Origin of treadmill

First recorded in 1815–25; tread + mill1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for treadmill

chore, task, travail, rote, labor, pace, drudgery, sweat, routine, toil, groove, rut, moil

Examples from the Web for treadmill

Contemporary Examples of treadmill

Historical Examples of treadmill

British Dictionary definitions for treadmill


  1. Also called: treadwheel (formerly) an apparatus used to produce rotation, in which the weight of men or animals climbing steps on or around the periphery of a cylinder or wheel caused it to turn
  2. a dreary round or routine
  3. an exercise machine that consists of a continuous moving belt on which to walk or jog
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 treadmill

invented (and named) 1822 by William Cubitt of Ipswich, England; originally an instrument of prison discipline; from tread (v.) + mill (n.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper