use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

INDO-EUROPEAN & SEMITIC ROOTS APPENDICES

Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

read (rēd)
Share:
v. read (rĕd), read·ing, reads
v.tr.
1. To examine and grasp the meaning of (written or printed characters, words, or sentences).
2. To utter or render aloud (written or printed material): read poems to the students.
3. To have the ability to examine and grasp the meaning of (written or printed material in a given language or notation): reads Chinese; reads music.
4.
a. To examine and grasp the meaning of (language in a form other than written or printed characters, words, or sentences): reading Braille; reading sign language.
b. To examine and grasp the meaning of (a graphic representation): reading a map.
5.
a. To discern and interpret the nature or significance of through close examination or sensitive observation: The tracker read the trail for signs of game.
b. To discern or anticipate through examination or observation; descry: "I can read abandonment in a broken door or shattered window" (William H. Gass).
6. To determine the intent or mood of: can read your mind like a book; a hard person to read.
7.
a. To attribute a certain interpretation or meaning to: read her words differently than I did.
b. To consider (something written or printed) as having a particular meaning or significance: read the novel as a parable.
8. To foretell or predict (the future).
9. To receive or comprehend (a radio message, for example): I read you loud and clear.
10. To study or make a study of: read history as an undergraduate.
11. To learn or get knowledge of from something written or printed: read that interest rates would continue to rise.
12. To proofread.
13. To have or use as a preferred reading in a particular passage: For change read charge.
14. To indicate, register, or show: The dial reads 32°.
15. Computers To obtain (data) from a storage medium, such as an optical disc.
16. Genetics To decode or translate (a sequence of messenger RNA) into an amino acid sequence in a polypeptide chain.
v.intr.
1. To examine and grasp the meaning of printed or written characters, as of words or music.
2. To speak aloud the words that one is reading: read to the children every night.
3. To learn by reading: read about the storm in the paper today.
4. To study.
5. To have a particular wording: Recite the poem exactly as it reads.
6. To contain a specific meaning: As the law reads, the defendant is guilty.
7. To indicate, register, or show a measurement or figure: How does your new watch read?
8. To have a specified character or quality for the reader: Your poems read well.
n.
Informal
1. Something that is read: "The book is a page-turner as well as a very satisfying read" (Frank Conroy).
2. An interpretation or assessment: gave us her read of the political situation.
adj. (rĕd)
Informed by reading; learned: only sparsely read in fields outside my profession.
Phrasal Verbs:
read out
To read aloud: Please read out the names on the list.
read up
To study or learn by reading: Read up on the places you plan to visit before you travel.
Idioms:
read a lecture/lesson
To issue a reprimand: My parents read me a lecture because I had neglected my chores.
read between the lines
To perceive or detect an obscure or unexpressed meaning: learned to read between the lines of corporate annual reports to discern areas of fiscal weakness.
read out of
To expel by proclamation from a social, political, or other group: was read out of the secretariat after the embarrassing incident.

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

Word History: English is the one of the few western European languages that does not derive its verb for "to read" from Latin legere. Compare, for example, leggere in Italian, lire in French, and lesen in German. (Equally surprising is the fact that English is the only western European language not to derive its verb for "to write" from Latin scrībere.) Read comes from the Old English verb rǣdan, "to advise, interpret (something difficult), interpret (something written), read." Rǣdan is related to the German verb raten, "to advise" (as in Rathaus, "town hall"). The Old English noun rǣd, "counsel," survives in the rare noun rede, "counsel, advice" and in the name of the unfortunate King Ethelred the Unready, whose epithet is often misunderstood. Unready here does not have its current sense "unprepared"; it is a late 16th-century spelling of an earlier unredy, "ill-advised, rash, foolish," from rede.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
Read (rēd), George 1733-1798.
Share:
American Revolutionary leader, politician, and jurist. Delaware's delegate to the Constitutional Convention (1787), he championed the rights of small states and later served as a US senator (1789-1793).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.