Definition of “spread” - English Dictionary

“spread” in English

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spreadverb [ I or T ]

uk /spred/ us /spred/ spread

B2 to (cause to) cover, reach, or have an effect on a wider or increasing area:

The fire spread very rapidly because of the strong wind.
It started off as cancer of the liver but it spread to other areas of the body.
The redundancies are spread across the banking and building industries.
We spread the picnic rug out on the ground and sat down to eat.
The virus is spread (= given to other people) through contact with blood and other body fluids.
Are you spreading (= telling a lot of people) gossip/rumours again?
If we spread (= divide) the work between us, it won't seem so bad.
She spread her toast with a thick layer of butter./She spread a thick layer of butter on her toast.
It's a special sort of butter that spreads easily even when cold.
The suburbs spread (out) for miles to either side of the city.
Slowly a smile spread across her face.

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uk /spred/ us /spred/

spread noun (AREA COVERED)

B2 [ S ] the development or growth of something so that it covers a larger area or affects a larger number of people:

The spread of the disease in the last few years has been alarming.

[ S ] the area or range covered by something:

The survey found a wide spread of opinion over the proposed new building.

[ C ] a large article or advertisement covering one or more pages in a newspaper or magazine:

There's a double-page spread on the latest fashions.

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spread noun (SOFT FOOD)

[ C or U ] a soft food for putting on bread and biscuits:

There's bread and various spreads for tea.

(Definition of “spread” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“spread” in American English

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spreadverb [ I/T ]

us /spred/

spread verb [ I/T ] (COVER)

past tense and past participle spread to cover or cause something to cover an object or an area:

[ T ] Pianist Eubie Blake could spread his fingers over 20 keys.
[ M ] She spread out the tablecloth.
[ I ] I had toast spread with strawberry jam.
[ I ] A strange look spread over his face.

spread verb [ I/T ] (MOVE)

to move from one place to another, or to cause something to move or be communicated:

[ I ] The flames quickly spread to the next room.
[ I ] Obesity is spreading in many countries.
[ I ] Doctors fear the cancer may spread to other organs.
[ T ] She’s been spreading lies about him.
[ T ] Neighbors have been spreading the word (= communicating information) about the proposed building project.


us /spred/

spread noun (MOVEMENT)

[ U ] the process of moving to cover a larger area or to affect a larger number of people:

Jazz records fostered the spread of American culture.
More should be done to stop the spread of this disease.

spread noun (COVER)

[ C ] A spread is a cover for a bed.

[ C ] A spread is also a soft food put on bread or other food:

a cheese spread

[ C ] A spread is also a meal, esp. one with a lot of different foods arranged on a table:

This is quite a spread.

(Definition of “spread” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

“spread” in Business English

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uk /spred/ us

[ C ] STOCK MARKET, FINANCE the difference between a trader’s buying price and selling price for particular shares, currencies, etc.

[ C ] FINANCE the difference between two interest rates :

a spread of sth The issue was priced at a spread of 115 basis points above Treasury bonds.

[ S ] a number of different things or people:

If you do not need immediate access to your money, why not diversify into a wider spread of investments?

[ S or U ] an increase in effect or influence, so that something affects more people or places:

the spread of sth Corporations have a crucial influence on the global spread of a homogenized culture.

[ S ] the different areas or numbers of people that are affected by something:

Given the size and spread of the American economy, the whole world has an economic interest in the US.

[ C ] MARKETING, COMMUNICATIONS an advertisement or article in a newspaper or magazine that covers two pages that are opposite each other:

a double-page spread
a spread on sth A magazine for Japanese businesspeople recently did a spread on the resort.

See also


uk /spred/ us spread, spread

[ I or T ] to affect more people or different areas, or to make something do this:

In the fall of 2007, the subprime lending crisis really began to spread.
High oil prices can spread inflation throughout the economy if companies decide to boost the prices of many other goods and services.
spread through/across/around sth A recruitment crisis is currently spreading through the public sector.
spread to Job cuts are spreading to big manufacturers.

[ T ] to share something among a group of people or things, so that no one person or thing has too much:

spread the costs/risks/load Include different types of income-yielding investments in your portfolio in order to spread the risk.

[ I or T ] to cover a particular area or a number of different areas, or to make something or someone do this:

be spread over/throughout/across sth The company employs 2,100 people spread over five locations.
spread payments/repayments/costs

FINANCE to make regular payments towards the total cost of something, usually for a period of months or years:

Repayments can be spread over two years.
spread the word/message

to tell other people about something, especially something new, and say whether you think it is good or bad:

Satisfied customers who spread the word play a big part in establishing the reputation of a brand.

(Definition of “spread” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)