American English

Definition of spread verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they spread
    he / she / it spreads
    past simple spread
    -ing form spreading
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  1. 1[transitive] spread something (out) (on/over something) to open something that has been folded so that it covers a larger area than before to spread a cloth on a table Sue spread the map out on the floor. The bird spread its wings.
  2. 2[transitive] spread something (out) (on/over something) to arrange objects so that they cover a large area and can be seen easily Papers had been spread out on the desk.
  3. arms/legs
  4. 3[transitive] spread something (out) to move your arms, legs, fingers, etc. far apart from each other She spread her arms and the child ran toward her.
  5. among people
  6. 4[intransitive, transitive] to affect or make something affect, be known by, or used by more and more people (+ adv./prep.) The disease spreads easily. Within weeks, his confidence had spread throughout the team. Use of computers spread rapidly during that period. spread something to spread rumors/lies about someone The disease is spread by mosquitoes.
  7. cover large area
  8. 5[intransitive, transitive] to cover, or to make something cover, a larger and larger area (+ adv./prep.) The fire rapidly spread to adjoining buildings. Water began to spread across the floor. A smile spread slowly across her face. spread something Using too much water could spread the stain.
  9. 6[transitive] spread somebody/something to cause someone or something to be in a number of different places Seeds and pollen are spread by the wind. We have 10,000 members spread all over the country.
  10. 7[intransitive] spread (out) + adv./prep. to cover a large area The valley spread out beneath us.
  11. soft layer
  12. 8[transitive, intransitive] to put a layer of a substance onto the surface of something; to be able to be put onto a surface spread (A on/over B) to spread butter on pieces of toast spread (B with A) pieces of toast spread with butter If the paint is too thick, it will not spread evenly.
  13. divide/share
  14. 9[transitive] to separate something into parts and divide them between different times or different people spread something Why not pay monthly and spread the cost of your car insurance? spread something (out) (over something) A series of five interviews will be spread over two days. spread something between somebody/something We attempted to spread the workload between the departments.
  15. Idioms
    spread like wildfire
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    (of news, etc.) to become known by more and more people very quickly rumors of his death spread like wildfire.
    spread your net
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    to consider a wide range of possibilities or cover a large area, especially to try to find someone or something They have spread their net far and wide in the search for a new team coach.
    spread your wings
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    to become more independent and confident and try new activities, etc. Going to college gave her the chance to spread her wings.
    spread the word
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    to tell people about something
    spread yourself too thin
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    to try to do so many different things at the same time that you do not do any of them well
    Phrasal Verbsspread out
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: spread