Meaning of READ in English

I. read 1 S1 W1 /riːd/ BrE AmE verb ( past tense and past participle read /red/)

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ read , ↑ reader , ↑ readership , ↑ reading , ↑ readability ; verb : ↑ read ; adjective : ↑ readable ≠ ↑ unreadable ]

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: rædan ]

1 . WORDS/BOOKS [intransitive and transitive] to look at written words and understand what they mean:

I can’t read your writing.

She picked up the letter and read it.

Read the instructions carefully before you start.

children who are just learning to read and write

Her books are quite widely read (=read by a lot of people) .

When I was young, I read every one of his books from cover to cover (=read all of something because you are very interested) .

2 . FIND INFORMATION [intransitive, transitive not in progressive] to find out information from books, newspapers etc:

You can’t believe everything you read in the papers.

read about

Did you read about what happened to that guy in Florida?

read of

I was shocked when I read of his death.

read (that)

I read last week that the disease is on the increase.

3 . READ AND SPEAK [intransitive and transitive] to say the words in a book, newspaper etc so that people can hear them

read somebody something

Daddy, will you read me a story?

read (something) to somebody

Our mother reads to us every evening.

Teachers should read more poetry to children.

He glanced at the letter and began to read it aloud.

4 . MUSIC/MAPS ETC [transitive] to look at signs or pictures and understand what they mean:

He plays the violin very well but can’t actually read music.

Are you any good at map reading?

5 . COMPUTER [transitive] technical if a computer can read a ↑ disk , it can take the information that is on the disk and put it into its memory

6 . UNDERSTAND SOMETHING IN A PARTICULAR WAY [transitive always + adverb/preposition] to understand a situation, remark etc in one of several possible ways SYN interpret :

I wasn’t sure how to read his silence.

read something as something

She shook her head, and I read this as a refusal.

The poem can be read as a protest against war.

read something well/accurately (=understand something correctly)

He had accurately read the mood of the nation.

7 . HAVE WORDS ON [transitive not in progressive] used to say what words are on a sign, in a letter etc SYN say :

A sign on the outer door read: ‘No Entry’.

8 . STYLE OF WRITING [intransitive] if something reads well, badly etc, it has been written well, badly etc:

I think in general the report reads well.

9 . read something as/for something to replace one word or number with another one, usually with the correct one:

Please read £50 as £15.

For ‘November’ (=instead of November) on line 6, read ‘September’.

10 . MEASURING [transitive]

a) to look at the number or amount shown on a measuring instrument:

Someone should be coming to read the gas meter.

b) if a measuring instrument reads a particular number, it shows that number:

The thermometer read 46 degrees.

11 . AT UNIVERSITY [intransitive and transitive] British English to study a subject at a university:

I read history at Cambridge.

read for

He wants to read for a law degree.


In everyday British English, people usually say that someone does a subject at university:

I did history at Cambridge.

He wants to do a law degree.

12 . take it as read (that) especially British English to feel certain that something is true although no one has told you it is true SYN assume :

You can take it as read that we will support the project.

13 . take something as read to accept that a report or statement is correct without reading it or discussing it:

We’ll take the secretary’s report as read.

14 . read between the lines to guess someone’s real feelings from something they say or write, when they do not tell you directly:

Reading between the lines, I’d say Robert’s not very happy.

15 . read sb’s mind/thoughts to guess what someone else is thinking:

‘Want some coffee?’ ‘You read my mind.’

16 . can read somebody like a book if you can read someone like a book, you know them so well that you immediately know what they are thinking or feeling

17 . read sb’s palm to look carefully at someone’s hand, in order to find out about their future

18 . read sb’s lips to understand what someone is saying by watching the way their lips move. People who cannot hear do this. ⇨ ↑ lip-read

19 . read my lips spoken used to tell someone that you really mean what you are saying:

Read my lips: I will not let you down.

20 . do you read me? spoken used to ask someone whether they can hear you when you are speaking to them by radio

21 . well-read/widely-read someone who is well-read has read a lot of books and knows a lot about many subjects:

She is intelligent and extremely well-read.

⇨ ↑ reading , ⇨ read (somebody) the riot act at ↑ riot 1 (4)

• • •


▪ read to look at and understand the words in a book, magazine, letter etc for interest, enjoyment, or study:

What book are you reading at the moment?


I usually read the newspaper on the way to work.

▪ flick/flip/leaf through something to turn the pages of a book, magazine etc quickly, looking for things that might interest you:

While I was waiting, I flicked through a magazine.


She was flipping through the pages of an encyclopedia.


Cunningham was leafing through a copy of the Financial Times at his desk amidst a cloud of cigar-smoke.

▪ browse through something to spend time looking through a book, magazine etc without any clear purpose, looking for things that might interest you:

Would you like to browse through our holiday brochure?

▪ skim/scan (through) something to read something quickly to get the main ideas or find a particular piece of information:

I want you to skim through the article and write a short summary of it.


Tony scanned the menu for a vegetarian option.

▪ pore over something to read something very carefully for a long time:

They spent weeks poring over guidebooks and planning their holiday.

▪ devour something /dɪˈvaʊə $ -ˈvaʊr/ to read something quickly and eagerly:

Her young fans devour her books.

▪ dip into something to read short parts of something:

It’s a book you can dip into rather than read from cover to cover.

▪ plough/wade through something to read something long and boring:

He’s upstairs ploughing through financial reports.


I can’t possibly wade through all this.

▪ surf the Net/Internet/Web to look quickly through information on the Internet, stopping to read what interests you:

I was surfing the Net, trying to find my ideal job.

read something ↔ back phrasal verb

to read out loud something that you have just written down

read something ↔ back to

Can you read that last bit back to me?

read for something phrasal verb

to say some of the words that are said by a particular character in a play, as a test of your ability to act

read something into something phrasal verb

to think that a situation, action etc has a meaning or importance that it does not really have:

It was only a casual remark. I think you’re reading too much into it.

read something ↔ out phrasal verb

to read and say words that are written down, so that people can hear:

Why don’t you read out the name of the winner?

read something ↔ out to

He read the last few sentences out to me.

read something ↔ through/over phrasal verb

to read something carefully from beginning to end in order to check details or find mistakes SYN check over/through :

Read the contract over carefully before you sign it.

Spend a couple of minutes just reading through your essay.

read up on something ( also read something ↔ up British English ) phrasal verb

to read a lot about something because you will need to know about it:

You’ll enjoy traveling more if you read up on the history of the countries you’ll be visiting.

II. read 2 BrE AmE noun [singular] informal

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ read , ↑ reader , ↑ readership , ↑ reading , ↑ readability ; verb : ↑ read ; adjective : ↑ readable ≠ ↑ unreadable ]

1 . British English if you have a read, you spend time reading:

I sat down to have a nice quiet read.

read of

I had a quick read of the report before I left.

2 . a good read something that you enjoy reading:

I thought his last book was a really good read.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.