—v.t. 1. to draw, stretch, or open out, esp. over a flat surface, as something rolled or folded (often fol. by out).
2. to stretch out or unfurl in the air, as folded wings, a flag, etc. (often fol. by out).
3. to distribute over a greater or a relatively great area of space or time (often fol. by out): to spread out the papers on the table. 4. to display or exhibit the full extent of; set out in full: He spread the pots on the ground and started hawking his wares. 5. to dispose or distribute in a sheet or layer: to spread hay to dry. 6. to apply in a thin layer or coating: to spread butter on a slice of bread. 7. to overlay or cover with something: She spread the blanket over her knees. 8. to set or prepare (a table), as for a meal.
9. to extend or distribute over a region, place, period of time, among a group, etc.
10. to send out, scatter, or shed in various directions, as sound, light, etc.
11. to scatter abroad; diffuse or disseminate, as knowledge, news, disease, etc.: to spread the word of the gospel. 12. to move or force apart: He spread his arms over his head in surrender. 13. to flatten out: to spread the end of a rivet by hammering. 14. Phonet. a. to extend the aperture between (the lips) laterally, so as to reduce it vertically, during an utterance.
b. to delabialize. Cf. round (def. 57c), unround.
—v.i. 1. to become stretched out or extended, as a flag in the wind; expand, as in growth.
2. to extend over a greater or a considerable area or period: The factory spread along the river front. 3. to be or lie outspread or fully extended or displayed, as a landscape or scene.
4. to admit of being spread or applied in a thin layer, as a soft substance: Margarine spreads easily. 5. to become extended or distributed over a region, as population, animals, plants, etc.
6. to become shed abroad, diffused, or disseminated, as light, influences, rumors, ideas, infection, etc.
7. to be forced apart, as the rails of a railroad track; separate.
8. spread oneself thin, to carry on so many projects simultaneously that none is done adequately, or that one's health suffers: Many college students spread themselves thin by taking on too many activities during the semester.
—n. 1. an act or instance of spreading: With a spread of her arms the actress acknowledged the applause. 2. expansion, extension, or diffusion: the spread of consumerism. 3. the extent of spreading: to measure the spread of branches. 4. Finance. a. the difference between the prices bid and asked of stock or a commodity for a given time.
b. a type of straddle in which the call price is placed above and the put price is placed below the current market quotation.
c. the difference between any two prices or rates for related costs: the widening spread between lending and borrowing costs. d. Stock Exchange.a broker's profit or the difference between his or her buying and selling price.
e. any difference between return on assets and costs of liabilities.
5. capacity for spreading: the spread of an elastic material. 6. a distance or range, as between two points or dates: The long-distance movers planned a five-day spread between pickup and delivery. 7. a stretch, expanse, or extent of something: a spread of timber. 8. a cloth covering for a bed, table, or the like, esp. a bedspread.
9. Informal.an abundance of food set out on a table; feast.
10. any food preparation for spreading on bread, crackers, etc., as jam or peanut butter.
12. Also called layout.Journalism.(in newspapers and magazines) an extensive, varied treatment of a subject, consisting primarily either of a number of cuts (picture spread) or of a major story and several supplementary stories, usually extending across three or more columns. Cf. double truck. 13. an advertisement, photograph, article, or the like, covering several columns, a full page, or two facing pages of a newspaper, magazine, book, etc.: a full-page spread; a two-page spread. 14. two facing pages, as of a newspaper, magazine, or book.
15. landed property, as a farm or ranch.
16. lay1 (def. 64).
17. See point spread.
—adj. 1. Jewelry.(of a gem) cut with the table too large and the crown too shallow for maximum brilliance; swindled.
2. Phonet.(of the opening between the lips) extended laterally. Cf. rounded (def. 2), unrounded.