AskDefine | Define tread

Dictionary Definition



1 a step in walking or running [syn: pace, stride]
2 the grooved surface of a pneumatic tire
3 the part (as of a wheel or shoe) that makes contact with the ground
4 structural member consisting of the horizontal part of a stair or step


1 put down or press the foot, place the foot; "For fools rush in where angels fear to tread"; "step on the brake" [syn: step]
2 tread or stomp heavily or roughly; "The soldiers trampled across the fields" [syn: trample]
3 crush as if by treading on; "tread grapes to make wine"
4 brace (an archer's bow) by pressing the foot against the center
5 apply (the tread) to a tire
6 mate with; "male birds tread the females" [also: trodden, trod]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /'tɻεd/
  • Rhymes: -ɛd


  1. The grooves carved into the face of a tire, used to give the tire traction.
  2. The bottom of a sneaker or tennis shoe, also used to give it traction.
  3. The top of a step on a staircase, also called a run.



  1. To step somewhere; to put the foot or the feet down.


Extensive Definition

The tread of a tire or caterpillar track refers to the rubber on its circumference that makes contact with the road. As tires are used, the tread is worn down limiting their effectiveness in providing traction. A worn tire tread can be replaced using a process known as retreading. The word tread is often used incorrectly to refer to the pattern of grooves cut into the rubber. Those grooves are correctly called the tread pattern, or simply pattern.


Street tires

The grooves in the rubber are designed to allow water to be expelled from beneath the tire and prevent hydroplaning. The proportion of rubber to air space on the road surface directly affects its traction. Design of tire tread has an impact upon noise generated, especially at freeway speeds. Generally there is a tradeoff of tread friction capability; deeper patterns often enhance safety, but simpler designs are less costly to produce and actually may afford some roadway noise mitigation. Tires intended for dry weather use will be designed with minimal pattern to increase the contact patch. Tires without any tread patterns are known as slicks and are generally used for racing only, since they are quite dangerous if the road surface is wet.
Street tires will also include wear limit indicators in the form of small raised bridges within the grooves. When the tread is worn down enough that the limit indicators make contact with the road, the tire is deemed to be at the end of its service life. Brake pads use similar indicators in the form of notches on their surface that disappear when they are used.

Off-road tires

Off-road tires used in mud or dirt feature individual knob patterns to allow the tire to bite into the surface and leverage the sides of the tread to get a better grip. Given the smaller contact patch, these tires tend to wear quickly when used on asphalt.

Mountain bike & motorcycle tires

Mountain bike and some motorcycle tires feature tread patterns similar to off-road tires used on cars and trucks but may sometimes include an unbroken tread that runs along its center. This feature provides better traction and lower noise on asphalt while the bike is vertical while retaining its ability to provide lateral grip when the bike is leaning.

Caterpillar tracks

Caterpillar tracks such as those used on military tanks or construction machines have metal track segments which may be rubber-coated. They usually do not feature tread patterns, because these would offer little additional grip given the weight of the tracked vehicle.


tread in Polish: Bieżnik (motoryzacja)
tread in Russian: Протектор

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1