1 /spred/ verb past tense and past participle spread
1 OPEN OR ARRANGE also spread sth out (T) to open something so that it covers a bigger area, or arrange a group of things, so that they cover a flat surface: spread sth on: Let's spread the map out on the floor. | spread sth over/across etc: She spread the towel over the radiator to dry. | The market women had spread out their goods on the pavement.
2 DISEASE/FEELINGS/PROBLEMS/FIRE (I, T) to increase, or be increased, and affect more and more people or affect a larger area: The fire spread very quickly.
(+ through/to/across etc): Cholera is spreading through the refugee camps at an alarming rate. | spread sth: She's the sort of woman who enjoys spreading bad feeling.
a) (I) to become known about or used by people more and more: News of the explosion spread swiftly.
(+ to/through/over etc): Buddhism spread to China from India. | the word spread (=the news became known by more and more people): The word spread that Louise had resigned. | spread like wildfire (=become known very quickly)
b) (T) to tell a lot of people about something: spread lies/rumours/gossip: Andy loves spreading rumours about his colleagues. | spread the word: Can you spread the word that the meeting is at 10.30?
4 PEOPLE/PLANTS/ANIMALS (intransitive always + adv/prep) to begin to live or grow in other areas or countries: throughout/over etc: The Moors spread all over Southern Spain.
a) (T) to put a soft substance onto a surface in order to cover it: spread sth on/over: He spread plaster on the walls. | spread sth with sth: Spread the toast thinly with butter.
b) (I) to be soft enough to be put onto a surface in order to cover it: If you warm up the butter it'll spread more easily.
a) also spread out (intransitive always + adv/prep) to cover or stretch over a large area
(+ across/over etc): Leafy branches spread above her forming a canopy.
b) be spread across/over etc to exist or be present over a large area: The population is fairly evenly spread across the country.
7 spread (out) your legs/arms/fingers etc to push your legs, fingers arms etc as far apart as possible
8 DO STH GRADUALLY also spread sth out (T) to do something gradually over a period of time: spread sth over sth: Could I spread the repayments over a longer period?
9 WORK/RESPONSIBILITY/MONEY (T) to share work, responsibility, or money among several people: The work will be spread across the departments. | spread the load/burden: If we type five pages each that should help spread the load.
10 EXPRESSION (intransitive always + adv/prep) to gradually cover all of someone's face
(+ across/over): A mischievous grin spread over her face.
11 spread seeds/manure/fertilizer to scatter seeds, manure etc on the ground
12 spread your wings to start to have an independent life: A year spent studying abroad should allow him to spread his wings a bit.
13 spread its wings if a bird or insect spreads its wings it stretches them wide
14 spread a/the table (with) old-fashioned to put food and drink on a table
spread out phrasal verb
1 (I) if a group of people spread out, they move apart from each other so that they cover a wider area: The detective ordered the officers to spread out and search the surrounding fields.
2 (transitive spread something out) to open something out or arrange a group of things on a flat surface: Sue spread out her notes on the kitchen table and began to write.
3 (I) to cover or stretch over a large area: A lush green valley spread out below us.
4 (transitive spread something out) to do something gradually over a period of time: You can spread out the cost over a year.
2 noun
1 increase (singular) the increase in the area, or number of people, affected by something, or in the number of people who do something: the spread of: the spread of liberal ideas in the 19th century
2 soft food (C, U) a soft food which you spread on bread: cheese/chocolate etc spread (=cheese, chocolate etc in a soft form)
3 large meal (singular) informal a large meal for several guests on a special occasion: She organized a marvellous spread for the soiree afterwards.
4 range (singular) a range of people or things: We have a good spread of ages in the department.
5 double-page spread/centre spread a special article or advertisement in a newspaper or magazine, which covers two pages or covers the centre pages
6 hand/wings (U) the area covered when the fingers of a hand, or a bird's wings, are fully stretched
7 a spread of land/water an area of land or water
8 farm (C) AmE a large farm or ranch
9 money technical the difference between the buying price and the selling price of shares (share2 (5)) on the stock exchange
—see also: middle­aged (3)

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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