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[thred] /θrɛd/
a fine cord of flax, cotton, or other fibrous material spun out to considerable length, especially when composed of two or more filaments twisted together.
twisted filaments or fibers of any kind used for sewing.
one of the lengths of yarn forming the warp or weft of a woven fabric.
a filament or fiber of glass or other ductile substance.
  1. any of a number of fibers twisted into a yarn.
  2. a yarn, especially as enumerated in describing small stuff.
something having the fineness or slenderness of a filament, as a thin continuous stream of liquid, a fine line of color, or a thin seam of ore:
a thread of smoke.
the helical ridge of a screw.
that which runs through the whole course of something, connecting successive parts:
I lost the thread of the story.
something conceived as being spun or continuously drawn out, as the course of life fabled to be spun, measured, and cut by the Fates.
Digital Technology. a series of posts and responses on a message board or electronic mailing list that deal with the same subject and are grouped together.
threads, Slang. clothes.
verb (used with object)
to pass the end of a thread through the eye of (a needle).
to fix (beads, pearls, etc.) upon a thread that is passed through; string.
to pass continuously through the whole course of (something); pervade:
A joyous quality threaded the whole symphony.
to make one's way through (a narrow passage, forest, crowd, etc.).
to make (one's way) thus:
He threaded his way through the crowd.
to form a thread on or in (a bolt, hole, etc.).
to place and arrange thread, yarn, etc., in position on (a sewing machine, loom, textile machine, etc.).
verb (used without object)
to thread one's way, as through a passage or between obstacles:
They threaded carefully along the narrow pass.
to move in a threadlike course; wind or twine.
Cookery. (of boiling syrup) to form a fine thread when poured from a spoon.
Origin of thread
before 900; (noun) Middle English threed, Old English thrǣd; cognate with Dutch draad, German Draht, Old Norse thrathr wire; (v.) Middle English threeden, derivative of the noun See throw
Related forms
threader, noun
threadless, adjective
threadlike, adjective
misthread, verb
rethread, verb
self-threading, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for threading
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The Enipeus and one or two minor streams were threading their way in silver ribbons down toward the distant Peneus.

    A Friend of Caesar William Stearns Davis
  • The car drove off, threading the narrow steep street slowly.

    Changing Winds St. John G. Ervine
  • In Fig. 1872 is represented a machine for threading or tapping the fittings for steam and gas pipe.

  • The girl, with her hands raised before her pale eyes, was threading her needle.

    Falk Joseph Conrad
  • threading the narrow bush-paths in long single files, they came from hillside and thicket towards the great centre of attraction.

    The Settler and the Savage R.M. Ballantyne
  • Motor-cars that were humiliating with their enamel and crystal were threading about.

    Waiting for Daylight Henry Major Tomlinson
  • It was thirty; in the distance was a great silver line, threading its way intermittently across the plain.

  • Looking around, they see Conchita threading her way through the grove.

    The Lone Ranche Captain Mayne Reid
  • threading their way with difficulty, he felt the restraining hand on his arm, as he had done two hundred times that day.

    The Blower of Bubbles Arthur Beverley Baxter
British Dictionary definitions for threading


a fine strand, filament or fibre of some material
a fine cord of twisted filaments, esp of cotton, used in sewing, weaving, etc
any of the filaments of which a spider's web is made
any fine line, stream, mark, or piece: from the air, the path was a thread of white
a helical groove in a cylindrical hole (female thread), formed by a tap or lathe tool, or a helical ridge on a cylindrical bar, rod, shank, etc (male thread), formed by a die or lathe tool
a very thin seam of coal or vein of ore
something acting as the continuous link or theme of a whole: the thread of the story
the course of an individual's life believed in Greek mythology to be spun, measured, and cut by the Fates
(transitive) to pass (thread, film, magnetic tape, etc) through (something): to thread a needle, to thread cotton through a needle
(transitive) to string on a thread: she threaded the beads
to make (one's way) through or over (something)
(transitive) to produce a screw thread by cutting, rolling, tapping, or grinding
(transitive) to pervade: hysteria threaded his account
(intransitive) (of boiling syrup) to form a fine thread when poured from a spoon
See also threads
Derived Forms
threader, noun
threadless, adjective
threadlike, adjective
Word Origin
Old English thrǣd; related to Old Frisian thrēd, Old High German drāt, Old Norse thrāthr thread
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for threading



Old English þræd "fine cord, especially when twisted" (related to þrawan "to twist"), from Proto-Germanic *thrædus (cf. Middle Dutch draet, Dutch draad, Old High German drat, German Draht, Old Norse þraðr), from suffixed form of root *thræ- "twist" (see throw). Meaning "spiral ridge of a screw" is from 1670s. Threads, slang for "clothes" is 1926, American English.


"to put thread through a needle," mid-14c., from thread (n.); in reference to film cameras from 1913. The dancing move called thread the needle is attested from 1844. Related: Threaded; threading.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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threading in Technology
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Idioms and Phrases with threading
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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