from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To examine and grasp the meaning of (written or printed characters, words, or sentences).
  • intransitive verb To utter or render aloud (written or printed material).
  • intransitive verb To have the ability to examine and grasp the meaning of (written or printed material in a given language or notation).
  • intransitive verb To examine and grasp the meaning of (language in a form other than written or printed characters, words, or sentences).
  • intransitive verb To examine and grasp the meaning of (a graphic representation).
  • intransitive verb To discern and interpret the nature or significance of through close examination or sensitive observation.
  • intransitive verb To discern or anticipate through examination or observation; descry.
  • intransitive verb To determine the intent or mood of.
  • intransitive verb To attribute a certain interpretation or meaning to.
  • intransitive verb To consider (something written or printed) as having a particular meaning or significance.
  • intransitive verb To foretell or predict (the future).
  • intransitive verb To receive or comprehend (a radio message, for example).
  • intransitive verb To study or make a study of.
  • intransitive verb To learn or get knowledge of from something written or printed.
  • intransitive verb To proofread.
  • intransitive verb To have or use as a preferred reading in a particular passage.
  • intransitive verb To indicate, register, or show.
  • intransitive verb Computers To obtain (data) from a storage medium, such as a magnetic disk.
  • intransitive verb Genetics To decode or translate (a sequence of messenger RNA) into an amino acid sequence in a polypeptide chain.
  • intransitive verb To examine and grasp the meaning of printed or written characters, as of words or music.
  • intransitive verb To speak aloud the words that one is reading.
  • intransitive verb To learn by reading.
  • intransitive verb To study.
  • intransitive verb To have a particular wording.
  • intransitive verb To contain a specific meaning.
  • intransitive verb To indicate, register, or show a measurement or figure.
  • intransitive verb To have a specified character or quality for the reader.
  • noun Something that is read.
  • noun An interpretation or assessment.
  • adjective Informed by reading; learned.
  • idiom (lecture/lesson) To issue a reprimand.
  • idiom (read between the lines) To perceive or detect an obscure or unexpressed meaning.
  • idiom (read out of) To expel by proclamation from a social, political, or other group.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • An obsolete form of red.
  • Having knowledge gained from reading; instructed by reading; in general, versed: now usually with well: as, well read in the classics.
  • To counsel; advise; recommend.
  • To teach; instil, as a lesson.
  • To explain the meaning of; explain; interpret; make out; solve: as, to read a riddle; to read a dream.
  • To declare; tell; rehearse.
  • To suppose; guess; imagine; fancy.
  • To understand by observation or scrutiny; acquire a knowledge of (something not otherwise obvious) by interpreting signs or indications; study out; interpret: as, to read the signs of the times; to read the sky or a person's countenance.
  • To discover by observation or scrutiny; perceive from signs or indications.
  • To observe and apprehend the meaning of (something written, printed, inscribed, or stamped in letters or other significant characters); go over with the eyes (or, in the case of the blind, with the fingers) and take in the meaning of (significant characters forming or representing words or sentences); peruse: as, to read a book, newspaper, poem, inscription, or piece of music.
  • To note the indication of (a graduated instrument): as, to read a thermometer or a circle.
  • To utter aloud: said of words or sounds represented by letters or other significant characters.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English reden, from Old English rǣdan, to advise; see ar- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English rǣdan ("advise, read"), from Proto-Germanic *rēdanan (“advise, counsel”). Cognate with Danish råde, Dutch raden, German raten, Swedish råda. The development from ‘advise, interpret’ to ‘interpret letters, read’ is unique to English. Compare rede.


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  • present tense v. past tense.

    November 22, 2007

  • How could this be such a boring word for such an incredibly mind-expanding, tremendously important activity?

    August 5, 2008

  • It's even more boring in the past tense. Read. Thud. Bed. Dud.

    August 5, 2008

  • Recently came across this usage in regard to having an original musical composition played by musicians: "Has this been read yet?"

    May 31, 2010