Imagine you’re driving through the English countryside and you get a bit lost. You might spread out a map to find out where you are, and when you reach your destination, you might decide to have a picnic, or a nice spread (meal).

After spreading out a rug, or even a bedspread, on the ground to sit on, you spread your legs a bit, then start spreading butter, cheese spread and other things on bread to make sandwiches.

After your picnic, maybe you and your companions spread out to explore the area. As you do so, you notice a farmer spreading muck on a nearby field, and another spreading seeds. You think they are growing genetically modified crops, and start spreading rumours about this. Before you know it the rumours turn into a double-page spread in the local newspaper, and you end up spreading fear and confusion.

The word spead can obviously be used in a variety of contexts and has various meanings. In French, however, there is a different word for most of these meanings:

  • étendre = to spread / open out (a towel, cloth, map)
  • écarter = to spread / strech out (arms, hands, legs)
  • étaler = to spread (butter, jam)
  • répandre = to spread (rumour, lies, fear, confusion, fertilizer)
  • propager = to spread (disease, infection)
  • disséminer = to spread (pollen, seeds)
  • échelonner = to spread (repayments)
  • répartir = to spread (wealth, workload)
  • se disperser = to spread out
  • le fromage à tartiner = cheese spread
  • le chocolat à tartiner = chocolate spread
  • une double page = a double-page spread
  • un repas = a spread (meal)
  • le couvre-lit = bedspread

Source: Reverso

4 thoughts on “Spread

  1. You might want to explore the many and varied meanings of “edit”. It displays similar characteristics, though perhaps not as many as spread.

  2. That’s pretty wild. I’ll just add that for me, as an American English speaker:

    1) If I come over to your house and you’ve made a meal with either lots of dishes or a few that look particularly impressive, I’ll say “Wow, what a spread!”.

    2) One doesn’t spread seeds, one “sows” seeds. In fact, the only things you use the verb “sow” for are seeds, and discontent. It’s almost an oxbow.

  3. “One doesn’t spread seeds …”

    It would not be incorrect to say “spread seed” but it is not the usual way to express this action, as there is a specific verb for it (to sow). The verb to broadcast can also be used in this sense – perhaps more in relation to a large field than a small garden — but it is rather old-fashioned usage now, having been superseded by the more modern sense of television/radio broadcasting.

    French also has tartiner for ‘to spread’ (butter, jam etc.)

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