1 [mass noun] the fact or process of spreading over an area:the spread of AIDS the spread of the urban population into rural areas 2the extent, width, or area covered by something:the male’s antlers can attain a spread of six feet the wingspan of a bird: the red-tailed hawk has a four-and-a-half-foot spread an expanse or amount of something:the green spread of the park 3the range or variety of something:a wide spread of ages the difference between two rates or prices:the very narrow spread between borrowing and deposit rates 4a soft paste that can be applied in a layer to bread or other food: low-fat spreads [mass noun]:cheese spread 5an article or advertisement covering several columns or pages of a newspaper or magazine, especially one on two facing pages:a double-page spread 6 informal a large and impressively elaborate meal: his mother laid on a huge spread 7North American a large farm or ranch.
8North American a bedspread: a patchwork spread 1 [with object] open out (something) so as to extend its surface area, width, or length:I spread a towel on the sand and sat down she helped Colin to spread out the map stretch out (arms, legs, hands, fingers, or wings) so that they are far apart: [with object and complement]:Bobby spread his arms wide 2 [no object, with adverbial] extend over a large or increasing area:rain over north-west Scotland will spread south-east during the day
) (of a group of people) move apart so as to cover a wider area:the Marines spread out across the docks
[with object and adverbial] distribute or disperse (something) over an area:volcanic eruptions spread dust high into the stratosphere gradually reach or cause to reach a wider area or more people: [no object]:the violence spread from the city centre to the suburbs [with object]:she’s always spreading rumours (of people, animals, or plants) become distributed over a large or larger area:the owls have spread as far north as Kuala Lumpur [with object and adverbial] distribute in a specified way:you can spread the payments over as long a period as you like 3 [with object and adverbial] apply (a substance) to an object or surface in an even layer:he sighed, spreading jam on a croissant cover (a surface) with a substance in an even layer:spread each slice thinly with mayonnaise [no object, with adverbial] be able to be applied in an even layer:a tub of unsalted butter that spreads so well
4 [with object] archaic lay (a table) for a meal.