General English


  • verb to scan printed text
  • verb to retrieve data from a storage medium


  • verb (of a batsman) to form a correct assessment, as the ball is released by the bowler (especially a slow bowler), of where the ball will pitch and how it will behave after it pitches, and take appropriate action
    Citation ‘Qadir was a joy to watch … Nobody “read” him, and of the right-handers, Bob Taylor played him better than most’ (Jack Bannister, WCM May 1984)
    Citation ‘The first ingredient of a good stroke, no doubt, is early reading of the ball: identification of its pace, spin and, above all, its length’ (Arlott 1983)
    Citation ‘He went round the wicket to the Indians and in one virtuoso spell had them groping, reduced to reading him off the pitch because they couldn’t tell the doosra from the hand’ (Mukul Kesavan, Cricinfo Magazine July 2006)


  • To access, copy, or otherwise locate and transfer data from a memory location, storage device, magnetic stripe, or the like. Examples include copying data from a hard disk to RAM, from RAM to the CPU, from a printer to RAM, or from a magnetic card to a magnetic card reader. The converse is a write (1).
  • To indicate, register, or otherwise display. For example, a value displayed by a meter. Also, to view such a reading.
  • To comprehend a received radio message.

Media Studies

  • verb to identify and understand the meaning of the characters and words in written or printed material
  • verb to interpret the information carried by movements, signs or signals

Origin & History of “read”

In most western European languages, the word for ‘read’ goes back ultimately to a source which meant literally ‘gather, pick up’: French lire, for instance, which comes from Latin legere (source of English legible and collect), and German lesen. English read, however, is an exception. Its underlying meaning is ‘advise, consider’ (it is related to German raten ‘advise’, and a memory of this original sense lives on in the archaic rede ‘advise’, which is essentially the same word as read, and also in unready ‘ill-advised’, the epithet applied to the Anglo-Saxon king Ethelred II), and the sense ‘read’ developed via ‘interpret’ (preserved in the related riddle).