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road definition


This page has 14 definitions of road in English, Estonian, and Swedish. Road is a noun and adjective. Examples of how to use road in a sentence are shown. Also define these 32 related words and terms: way, travel, surface, asphalt, concrete, vehicle, lane, motor vehicle, path, life, career, tunnel, mine, rail transport, railway, riding, horseback, ride, raid, nautical, sheltered, vessel, anchor, roadstead, sports, venue, opposing, competitor, on the road, roog, amused, and entertained.

English road definition

Alternative forms


From Middle English rode, rade (ride, journey), from Old English rād (riding, hostile incursion), from Proto-West Germanic *raidu, from Proto-Germanic *raidō (a ride), from Proto-Indo-European *reydʰ- (to ride). Doublet of raid, acquired from Scots, and West Frisian reed (paved trail/road, driveway).

The current primary meaning of "street, way for traveling" originated relatively late—Shakespeare seemed to expect his audiences to find it unfamiliar—and probably arose through reinterpetation of roadway as a tautological compound.



road (plural roads)

  1. A way used for travelling between places, originally one wide enough to allow foot passengers and horses to travel, now (US) usually one surfaced with asphalt or concrete and designed to accommodate many vehicles travelling in both directions. In the UK both senses are heard: a country road is the same as a country lane. [from 16th c.]
    • 1852, Mrs M.A. Thompson, “The Tutor's Daughter”, in Graham's American Monthly Magazine of Literature, Art, and Fashion[1], page 266:
      In the lightness of my heart I sang catches of songs as my horse gayly bore me along the well-remembered road.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 1, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      I stumbled along through the young pines and huckleberry bushes. Pretty soon I struck into a sort of path that, I cal'lated, might lead to the road I was hunting for.
    • Travel definition
      To be on a journey, often for pleasure or business and with luggage; to go from one place to another. (1 of 6 travel definitions)
  2. (uncountable) Roads in general as a means of travel, especially by motor vehicle.
    We travelled to the seaside by road.
  3. A way or route.
    • 1855-1857, Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit
      He stirred up his hair with his sprightliest expression, glanced at the little figure again, said ‘Good evening, ma ‘am; don’t come down, Mrs Affery, I know the road to the door,’ and steamed out.
    • 1930, Norman Lindsay, Redheap, Sydney: Ure Smith, published 1965, page 131:
      Hetty and Mrs. Piper watched them with a lynx-eyed understanding and before the ancient was well upon his road his way was blocked by Hetty.
  4. (figuratively) A path chosen in life or career. [from 17th c.]
    • 1964, Ronald Reagan: A Time for Choosing
      Where, then, is the road to peace?
    • 2012 September 7, Phil McNulty, BBC Sport:
      Hodgson may actually feel England could have scored even more but this was the perfect first step on the road to Rio in 2014 and the ideal platform for the second qualifier against Ukraine at Wembley on Tuesday.
  5. An underground tunnel in a mine. [from 18th c.]
    • Mine definition
      My; belonging to me; that which belongs to me.
      1. Used predicatively. (1 of 4 mine definitions)
  6. (US, rail transport) A railway or (Britain, rail transport) a single railway track. [from 19th c.]
  7. (obsolete) The act of riding on horseback. [9th-17th c.]
  8. (obsolete) A hostile ride against a particular area; a raid. [9th-19th c.]
  9. (nautical, often in the plural) A partly sheltered area of water near a shore in which vessels may ride at anchor; a roadstead. [from 14th c.]
    • c. 1596-97, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act V scene i[2]:
      Antonio: Sweet lady, you have given me life and living; / For here I read for certain that my ships / Are safely come to road.
    • 1630, John Smith, True Travels, in Kupperman 1988, page 38:
      There delivering their fraught, they went to Scandaroone; rather to view what ships was in the Roade, than any thing else […].
    • Anchor definition
      A tool used to moor a vessel to the bottom of a sea or river to resist movement. (1 of 19 anchor definitions)
    • Roadstead definition
      A partly-sheltered anchorage; a stretch of water near the shore where vessels may ride at anchor, but with less protection than a harbour.
  10. (obsolete) A journey, or stage of a journey.
    • c. 1613, William Shakespeare, Henry VIII, Act IV scene ii[3]:
      At last, with easy roads, he came to Leicester; / Lodg'd in the abbey, where the reverend abbot, / With all his convent, honourably receiv'd him; []

Usage notes

Often used interchangeably with street or other similar words. When usage is distinguished, a road is a route between settlements (reflecting the etymological relation with ride), as in the Great North Road from London to Edinburgh, while a street is a route within a settlement (city or town), strictly speaking paved.


Derived terms

Terms derived from road (noun)



road (not comparable)

  1. (US, Canada, sports, chiefly attributive) At the venue of the opposing team or competitor; on the road.
  2. (Britain, Slang) Having attributes, primarily masculine, suggesting a tendency towards minor crime. Usually used by youths endearingly; glorifying crime.


  • (at the venue of the opposing team or competitor): away (UK)


Estonian road definition



  1. nominative plural of roog

Swedish road definition


past participle of roa.


road (not comparable)

  1. amused, entertained
    • Amused definition
      simple past tense and past participle of amuse
    • Entertained definition
      simple past tense and past participle of entertain


Inflection of road
Indefinite Positive Comparative Superlative2
Common singular road
Neuter singular roat
Plural roade
Definite Positive Comparative Superlative
Masculine singular1 roade
All roade
1) Only used, optionally, to refer to things whose natural gender is masculine.
2) The indefinite superlative forms are only used in the predicative.

Related terms