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

  • intransitive verb To walk on, over, or along.
  • intransitive verb To press beneath the feet; trample.
  • intransitive verb To treat unjustly or harshly; oppress.
  • intransitive verb To form by walking or trampling.
  • intransitive verb To execute by walking or dancing.
  • intransitive verb To copulate with. Used of a male bird.
  • intransitive verb To go on foot; walk.
  • intransitive verb To set down the foot; step.
  • intransitive verb To trample something. Used with on or upon.
  • intransitive verb To treat someone or something unjustly or harshly. Used with on or upon.
  • intransitive verb To copulate. Used of birds.
  • noun The act, manner, or sound of treading.
  • noun An instance of treading; a step.
  • noun A mark made by treading, as in snow.
  • noun The upper horizontal part of a step in a staircase.
  • noun The part of a wheel or tire that makes contact with the road or rails.
  • noun The grooved face of a tire.
  • noun The part of a shoe sole that touches the ground.
  • noun Either of the continuous ridged belts with which bulldozers, tanks, and certain other vehicles move over the ground.
  • idiom (tread the boards) To act on the stage.
  • idiom (tread water) To keep the head above water while in an upright position by pumping the legs.
  • idiom (tread water) To expend effort but make little or no progress to achievement of a goal or an end.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To form puddles under the tread of horses: said of the ground.
  • noun A step or stepping; footing; pressure with the foot.
  • noun Way; track; path. See trade, n. 2.
  • noun Copulation, as of birds.
  • noun The cicatricula of an egg: so called from the former erroneous belief that it appeared only in fecundated eggs laid by the hen after the tread of the cock. Compare treadle.
  • noun Manner of stepping: as, a horse with a good tread.
  • noun The flat or horizontal part of a step or stair; a tread-board.
  • noun The length of a ship's keel.
  • noun The bearing surface of a wheel or of a runner on a road or rail.
  • noun The part of a rail on which the wheels bear.
  • noun The part of a stilt on which the foot rests.
  • noun That part of the sole of a boot or shoe which touches the ground in walking.
  • noun The top of the banquette of a fortification, on which soldiers stand to fire.
  • noun The upper side of the bed of a lathe between the head-stock and the back-center.
  • noun The width from pedal to pedal of a bicycle.
  • noun A wound on the coronet of a horse's foot, produced by the shoe of either hind or fore foot of the opposite side.
  • To set the foot down, as on the ground.
  • To press or be put down on or as on the ground.
  • To walk; step; especially, to walk with a more or less stately, measured, or cautious step.
  • To copulate, as birds: said especially of a cock-bird.
  • To follow closely.
  • To step or walk on.
  • To beat or press with the feet: as, a well-trodden path.
  • To crush under the foot; trample in contempt or hatred.


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

[Middle English treden, from Old English tredan.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English treden, from Old English tredan ("to tread, step on, trample, traverse, pass over, enter upon, roam through "), from Proto-Germanic *tredanan, *trudanan. Cognate with Dutch treden, German treten, Danish træde, Swedish träda, Norwegian treda.


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  • "My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground..."

    October 8, 2009

  • My mistress, when she walks, skims over the water ...

    October 8, 2009

  • Sorry; I should have cited Shakespeare, sonnet 130.

    October 8, 2009

  • So, bilby has a thing for water striders, does he?

    *raises a meaningful eyebrow*

    Does anyone have a "What exactly is a bilby, anyhow?" list that we could add this to?

    October 9, 2009

  • I have an open list that bilby can add anything to. Would that work? If not I could rejigger one or another of that pile of open lists I made to chase that one list title off the front page a few weeks ago.

    ...That was a hell of a sentence.

    October 12, 2009