Definition of thread in English:



  • 1A long, thin strand of cotton, nylon, or other fibers used in sewing or weaving.

    • ‘You can also use textured-nylon or polyester threads on a conventional sewing machine.’
    • ‘Weave the threads of all customer interactions into a unified portrait of your customer.’
    • ‘Many framers use a cotton thread with just enough tensile strength to effectively hold the item, but not too much to cause damage.’
    • ‘Simeon was silent for a moment, picking a loose thread on the plain white cotton sheets.’
    • ‘Woven gauzes are manufactured from cotton yam or threads and woven like fabric.’
    • ‘To finish off the thread ends, tie the threads and weave them back into the hem.’
    • ‘Asbestos is the name of a group of minerals that occur naturally as masses of strong, flexible fibers that can be separated into thin threads and woven.’
    • ‘She sighed and let her hands rest on her lap, her fingers absently playing with a loose thread of cotton.’
    • ‘Sometimes the threads are woven inaccurately, need to be pulled, and the section started again.’
    • ‘He worries a loose thread on my shirt between his fingertips.’
    • ‘My own coat was still draped over the chair by the door, but even from where I stood I could see loose threads dangling from the seams.’
    • ‘The superfine finish is so supple, lustrous and perfect that the mats look like they have been woven from silk threads.’
    • ‘Each time you return to the puzzle, you pick up the same threads and weave a different cloth.’
    • ‘Iraq is also famous for its carpets, woven from fine threads in brilliant colors.’
    • ‘Up close, her process of dyeing and then weaving the newly colored threads on a loom became more evident.’
    • ‘Most carpets are woven on a vertical loom, so that the threads which emerge from the knots hang downwards towards the end where the weaving started, and these loops are cut to form the pile.’
    • ‘These threads are woven into textile yarns to produce sacks, carpet base, mats, rope and twine and many other materials.’
    • ‘A seven-year-old girl in the village, for example, already knows how to operate the loom and how to weave the threads.’
    • ‘I smiled and picked at a loose thread on the comforter.’
    • ‘With the other hand he picked at a loose thread in the old quilt.’
    1. 1.1Cotton, nylon, or other fibers spun into long, thin strands and used for sewing.
      • ‘Drape it over the lid, folding into little pleats around the edge, and secure with waxed twine or embroidery thread.’
      • ‘Armed with the strongest and finest cotton thread in the world, Bolton's weavers were able to produce the finest cotton material in the world.’
      • ‘The skirt flows freely around and around, and the ends are fringed with little brown strands of thread.’
      • ‘To my surprise, Emma takes some needle and thread out of one of her pockets.’
      • ‘Out of nowhere, she's got needle and thread in one hand, and in the space of a heartbeat, she's pulled her chair beside mine.’
      • ‘We do not know where she got the needle from because neither of us can remember the last time we used a needle and thread.’
      • ‘Using a needle and thread, they stitched the flowers over the sword-shaped petals.’
      • ‘Someone had taken a needle and thread to the cut along the side.’
      • ‘He went inside and came across a beautiful woman spinning golden thread.’
      • ‘The rest of the dress looked to be made of white gold spun into thread.’
      • ‘The garments were hung on fabric-covered padded rods and suspended from the ceiling by nylon filament thread.’
      • ‘Handiness with a needle and thread made her eldest child the obvious choice for such a task.’
      • ‘Consequently, scores of young women plan to learn some fundamentals of the art of thread and needle in order to become more charming to their lovers.’
      • ‘So, I grabbed a needle and some thread and stitched it up a bit.’
      • ‘The cotton would be cleaned and then spun into yarn or thread.’
      • ‘Thread the machine with white thread or clear monofilament nylon thread in the needle.’
      • ‘I have crewel yarn and silk thread, and I'm determined to make something of it.’
      • ‘After the nurse stitched the wound with a sewing needle and cotton thread, the mother and baby were transferred and treated by Dr King and his colleagues at the nearest hospital.’
      • ‘I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.’
      • ‘She was on a production line that spins cotton thread onto the spools.’
      yarn, cotton, filament, fibre, strand, string, twine, line
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    2. 1.2North American informal Clothes.
      • ‘Shopping for threads is more like a chore - most guys do it out of necessity.’
      • ‘The thing is, you can purchase all the brand-name items you like, but if you roll in and out of bed at the start and end of the day, then no one will really notice your stylish threads.’
      • ‘Next, I suggest you make an effort to drag him along when you go shopping, and occasionally treat him to some fashionable threads.’
      • ‘If you're the guy with the most stylish threads, the ladies will be falling head over heels.’
      • ‘Instead, they look for classic threads that are comfortable and of superior quality.’
      • ‘Now it's your job to find high-quality threads in classic styles.’
      • ‘Besides, what's the point of wearing the coolest threads of the season if your jacket doesn't say it all?’
      • ‘They'll usually purchase several trendy pieces every season and then match them with more classic threads.’
      • ‘When it comes to shopping for vintage threads, the place to do it is online.’
      • ‘I'd love to dress up in the latest threads from designer brands, but I'm a student and just cannot afford it.’
      • ‘So maybe you don't have the perfect body, perfect hair or perfect threads but who does?’
      • ‘Wear it with jeans and your other trendy threads.’
      • ‘Going out may seem like a drag when you don't know what to wear, but we have the threads to help you look like you own the place.’
      • ‘Anybody have a place to get cool threads on the net?’
      • ‘We'd love to stay outdoors all the time, run off on adventurous weekend trips, and shop for new threads and sandals.’
      • ‘Remember; you are never forced to buy anything you try on, so don't feel guilty about trying on different threads.’
      • ‘I know you're looking forward to showing off your newest spring threads at the office and on weekends, but the right jacket can take your look to a whole new level.’
      • ‘Whether you pile your clothes on your chair or hang up any shirt on any hanger, these tips will help your favorite threads last.’
      • ‘The new womenswear and menswear designer emporiums showcase threads from cutting edge houses, but you can still buy tartan shortbread in the food hall.’
      • ‘Whether you're at the office or the coolest club in town, you'll need the threads to make you the man of the winter hour.’
      outfit, clothes, costume, ensemble, suit, clothing, dress, attire, garments, garb, turnout, rig, uniform, livery, array, regalia, robes, finery
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  • 2A thing resembling a thread in length or thinness, in particular.

    • ‘A pair of miniature scissors appeared in his hands next, and with mild curiosity, Gale watched the doctor snip gently at the thin silver threads in her skin.’
    1. 2.1literary A long, thin line or piece of something.
      ‘the river was a thread of silver below them’
      • ‘Her hair had silver threads in it, and on her face were the beginnings of lines.’
      • ‘It was the suddenness with which the drop opened, more than a thousand feet from Hualapai Hilltop to the pale thread of the track below, that took my breath away.’
      • ‘The glittering threads of rivers twisted their way to the sea and Hayes could just make out the lighter wash where they discharged sediment.’
      • ‘The older woman looked much like Jenna, only her face had a few more lines and the long black hair was touched with threads of silver.’
      • ‘Now that he's close, I can see a few threads of silver in the thick black hair.’
      streak, strand, stripe, line, striation, strip, seam, vein, belt, bar, swathe
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    2. 2.2A theme or characteristic, typically forming one of several, running throughout a situation or piece of writing.
      ‘a common thread running through the scandals was the failure to conduct audits’
      • ‘And throughout, the common thread is the implications of property rights.’
      • ‘She insists there is a common thread running through the show, despite the fact that it features work and artists that refuse to be pigeonholed.’
      • ‘The common thread among the superstars is that they all reached the major leagues at a very early age.’
      • ‘A common thread throughout this discourse is the sense that members of the subjugated regime are outside the mainstream.’
      • ‘Earlier phases in its history have emphasized different characteristics, but a common thread remains.’
      • ‘Every prisoner has a story, he says, although there's often a common thread running through each.’
      • ‘In fact, the recursive aspect of confirming predictions and orchestrating multiple cues is a common thread throughout this article.’
      • ‘Flick through a list of his bestselling books and you will soon pick up on the common thread running through them.’
      • ‘The common thread in both situations is the communication of information in confidence to an adviser or therapeutic counsellor.’
      • ‘While techno is the common thread throughout all ten songs, the material is by turns raucous and gentle, even sweet.’
      • ‘The common thread that ran throughout the entire discussion focused on the chasm that sometimes exists between teachers and retailers.’
      • ‘The common thread is ideological certainty untroubled by empirical evidence, intellectual curiosity, or open debate.’
      • ‘Their common thread is the belief in a free and open society that readily shares information and knowledge to collectively improve on the world we live in.’
      • ‘Providing too much detailed information to the policy maker was a common thread running through the symposium.’
      • ‘We can detect that mockery as a characteristic thread throughout the oeuvre.’
      • ‘The common thread running throughout this collection is the human figure.’
      • ‘A common thread through most of the stories is the support from the family.’
      • ‘Another common thread running through the stories is that of relationships gone awry.’
      • ‘If there is a common thread in all of this, it is the sense of entitlement.’
      • ‘The subject of the nightmare and its characters change, but there is a common thread to the plot, namely that I am not strong or fast enough to prevent whatever horrors befall me.’
      train of thought, drift, direction, sense, theme, subject matter, motif, tenor, strain, thrust, subject, gist, burden, action
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  • 3A group of linked messages posted on an Internet forum that share a common subject or theme.

    • ‘Since discussion threads are linked to individual news items or essays, discussions are quite limited temporally.’
    • ‘No, he didn't say any of that, he just sent us a link to the discussion thread.’
    • ‘One of the unexpected benefits of posting the article to a newsgroup was that a thread developed on the subject of competition on the London to Manchester route.’
    • ‘If you have any problems that aren't resolved here, then you can post on the forum thread by clicking here’
    • ‘I know there are other threads on this subject, but they are more specific in nature.’
    1. 3.1A programming structure or process formed by linking a number of separate elements or subroutines, especially each of the tasks executed concurrently in multithreading.
      • ‘All processes are considered threads by the operating system.’
      • ‘It solves the performance problem by executing all requests as threads in one process, or in a load-balanced system, in one process per server in the cluster.’
      • ‘The dual-core processors that can process several computational threads at the same time very often push us towards this working algorithm.’
      • ‘Multiple streams of data are characteristic of applications which execute multiple threads and processes in parallel.’
      • ‘A processor equipped with thread-level parallelism can execute completely separate threads of code.’
  • 4A helical ridge on the outside of a screw, bolt, etc., or on the inside of a cylindrical hole, to allow two parts to be screwed together.

    • ‘Cadmium plating or the use of anti-galling paints are effective in preventing seizure of bolt threads.’
    • ‘Standards for threads and bolt sizes were only a part of the problem, however.’
    • ‘She took a standard coffee pot and put a perforated cylinder - similar to a sieve - in the middle, into which she put a plunger on a screw thread.’
    • ‘This can be done either by putting a screw thread of the correct pitch on the barrel's axle or, more often, by shifting a lever.’
    • ‘A gouge auger is similar, but instead of a screw thread there is a sharp-ended tube with a slot cut in the side.’


  • 1Pass a thread through the eye of (a needle) or through the needle and guides of (a sewing machine)

    • ‘It is frustration like not being able to thread a needle, no matter how hard you try.’
    • ‘Then he picks up a needle and threads it with thick black thread as he speaks to her.’
    • ‘Six needles, already threaded with colored yarn, are laid out next to each other so that the colors of the threads simulate a rainbow of sorts.’
    • ‘Mama pretended to busy herself with threading a needle, but I could tell that it was only show.’
    • ‘With shaking hands, I threaded the needle under his piercing gaze.’
    • ‘You may find yourself having trouble eating with a spoon or fork, drinking from a cup, threading a needle, or writing.’
    • ‘She couldn't see the hole to thread the needle, and upon sticking it into the fabric she poked herself again.’
    • ‘She sat down, smoothed out her dress, threaded the needle, and began.’
    • ‘When the right pair was found, the woman was able to thread a needle again.’
    • ‘He begins to accept the new lifestyle, helping his grandmother to thread a needle, hang up clothes on the clothesline, and shop with her at the market.’
    • ‘Use this needle if you have difficulty threading needles.’
    • ‘Men are nimble enough with the chopsticks, but threading the needle takes patience.’
    • ‘She tests him by making him thread a needle, catch something in between his legs, and throw a bar of lead.’
    • ‘She finishes threading the needle, and examines it for a moment.’
    • ‘For example, even simple acts like threading a needle or pouring a drink into a cup can become a challenge.’
    • ‘I demonstrated how to thread the blunt tapestry needle, where to place the knot and how to hold and move the needle when stitching.’
    • ‘I have to thread the needles for her but she suggested we keep several threaded at one time so she could work for longer periods.’
    • ‘I threaded up a needle with linen thread, and took one of the new-cut pieces of fabric and folded back a hem, and began my work.’
    • ‘I stand and look down at the needle as I thread it with ease and neatly begin stitching.’
    • ‘To thread texturized nylon, use a needle threader or put a dab of seam sealant on the thread end and let it dry before threading the needle.’
    1. 1.1Pass (a long, thin object or piece of material) through something and into the required position for use.
      ‘he threaded the rope through a pulley’
      • ‘Generally in an angioplasty, doctors thread a catheter through the femoral artery.’
      • ‘It was a process a bit like tying a granny knot: twisting one edge of the sausage rope into a loop, then threading the other end through, looping it, and twisting again.’
      • ‘Threading the catheter shouldn't cause pain, and you won't feel it moving through your body.’
      • ‘The leads were threaded through a small hole at the bottom of the artificial nest.’
      • ‘The idea: thread a catheter up the femoral artery from the groin or through another blood vessel.’
      • ‘Since you don't have nerve endings in the brain, the patient can be completely awake as you thread the lead down in the brain.’
      • ‘Thread a short ribbon through slits cut in two sides to make a handle.’
      • ‘A disc had been cut from the middle and a leather cord was threaded through this hole.’
      • ‘Then he threaded his leftover rope through the hole and secured the shoe with a simple knot.’
      • ‘Lantern clocks originally ran on woven ropes, which were threaded over spikes on ratchet wheels.’
      • ‘APS cameras all auto-load these cartridges, so there is no messing about with threading film through a series of rollers.’
      • ‘A doctor painstakingly threads a thin tube deep into his sedated patient's heart.’
      • ‘The cameraman would show me how to thread the film and how to repair it.’
      • ‘This procedure doesn't require threading a catheter into your arteries, as does traditional angiography.’
      • ‘I pulled on my pants, threading a black leather belt through the belt loops.’
      • ‘A line would be threaded through this piece of wood and again through the gun to prevent recoil when the gun was fired.’
      • ‘They use backstrap looms which are attached to a tree and consist of several smooth pieces of wood threaded with the bright cotton used for weaving.’
      • ‘Both types of devices allow the caver to control their descent by applying friction to the rope that is threaded through them.’
      • ‘Using an awl or heavy needle, poke two holes through the spine of the book to thread the waxed linen through.’
      pass, string, weave, work, ease, inch, move, push, poke, thrust
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    2. 1.2[no object]Move carefully or skillfully in and out of obstacles.
      ‘she threaded her way through the tables’
      • ‘We walked through the grasses that must have appeared much the same when Sioux warriors threaded their way towards Custer's men.’
      • ‘We threaded our way back along the line, around the south side of the rotunda under City Hall's famous gold-trimmed dome.’
      • ‘Wendy threaded her way around the old firetruck, plodded up the front steps, and continued on up to her room, where she flopped on her bed, staring at the ceiling.’
      • ‘Carefully we threaded our way through the beach maze, around and between and over what seemed like an endless array of towels, blankets, beach umbrellas, and beach chairs.’
      • ‘We gingerly threaded our way through the stalled cars back to our building.’
      • ‘He wanted a car small enough to thread through city streets, yet big enough to take three people and their luggage.’
      • ‘Astonishingly, more than 200 climbers were threading their way up the steep snowfield on that last weekend in May.’
      • ‘He threaded his way through the crowd, taking up a position beside the president and followed him into the hall, where he sat beside him on the stage.’
      • ‘The City of London may only cover one square mile, but our journey aboard the 100 appeared to thread around most of it.’
      • ‘The group threaded its way up treacherous couloirs and 50-degree snow slopes, cutting steps with ice axes.’
      • ‘It was from Manorbier that I persuaded the children to join me in a walk along a small stretch of Pembrokeshire's 186 mile coastal path, threading between heather, sea pinks and campion along a volley of headlands.’
      • ‘She picked up my hand and began threading through the crowds, unfazed by strangers' chests and elbows.’
      • ‘He said a good crowd turned out to watch as the runners, many from Holland, threaded their way through the streets, after starting at the Harwich School, Hall Lane.’
      • ‘Pedestrians threaded their way unpredictably through the slowly moving mass.’
      file, make one's way
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    3. 1.3Interweave or intersperse as if with threads.
      ‘his hair had become ill-kempt and threaded with gray’
      • ‘Knits are threaded with silver, trousers made of advanced cotton fiber and many shirts carry pixel prints.’
      • ‘The highlights for most listeners were the poems threaded with irony.’
      • ‘In the bathroom, a comb threaded with grey hairs lay on the side of the basin.’
      • ‘His beard was already threaded with grey stubble and his skin had an unnatural pallor.’
      • ‘The play tells the story of his life amidst the turbulent times of the Penal Laws, and the narrative is threaded with her music.’
      • ‘Claret lovers will enthuse over this traditional style that delivers blackfruits, pencil shavings, cigar boxes threaded with ripe tannins, all backed by firm acidity.’
      • ‘This is a boutique style of Pinot, delivering classy, clean, red berry-fruits threaded with firm acidity, spice and toasty oak.’
      • ‘Her eyes were small and brightly anxious, threaded with fine filaments of blood, and her aquiline nose was now a pug nose in which broken capillaries glowed with a sullen heat.’
      • ‘It has a traditional cylindrical shape and is threaded with delicate blue veins.’
      • ‘Waves of aromas and flavours of cigar boxes, ripe juicy blackcurrants and spice all harmoniously integrate with perfumed French oak and are threaded with firm acidity.’
      • ‘His eyes were threaded with blood and his face was still pale from the winter but flushed, mottled.’
      • ‘Jostling for your tastebuds' attention is a melee of strawberry and redcurrant jam spiked with spice and harmoniously threaded with elegant oaky notes.’
      • ‘Assertive, clean, black-fruit flavours are threaded with a necessary acidity and backed by chewy oak.’
      • ‘The central spine of mountains, a last fling of the Andean chain, are matted in rainforest, threaded with trails, cooled by waterfalls and home to more birds per square mile than anywhere in the world.’
      • ‘This is benchmark Australian oaked Chardonnay: ripe fruit is balanced, threaded with firm acidity and finished with a twist of oak.’
      • ‘The Riesling grape performs well in southern Australia, and this delivers typical notes of limes, peels and petroleum oils, threaded with mouthwatering acidity.’
    4. 1.4Put (beads, chunks of food, or other small objects) together or singly on a thread, chain, or skewer that runs through the center of each one.
      ‘Connie sat threading beads’
      • ‘Long strips of what appeared to be dark meat were threaded onto the last two skewers.’
      • ‘Using 4 fine, long, wooden kebab skewers, thread a mixture of ingredients onto each one.’
      • ‘The longlines are threaded with many thousands of hooks and stretch for up to 50 miles.’
      • ‘It's just a case of threading them together like beads on a string, whether they make sense or not.’
      • ‘A weight followed by another smaller bead were threaded on the wire.’
      • ‘During the fourth year the child learns to cut with scissors and to thread beads, develops a mature pencil grasp, and learns to draw.’
      • ‘Alternately thread the vegetables on wooden or metal skewers.’
      • ‘At school, my children recently made fruit kebabs, just threading grapes, hulled strawberries and bits of melon and orange on to skewers.’
      • ‘Then thread a small bell with some ribbon, and pull the ribbon up through the hole in the pot.’
  • 2Cut a screw thread in or on (a hole, screw, or other object)

    • ‘What they do is to drill a pilot hole in the bolt, and place a bit into the hole that is reverse threaded so that while you are tightening up the bit, it is backing out the bolt.’
    • ‘These include implants that are noncoated, tapered, and threaded in design, and which are immediate-load in nature to allow for delivery in a single procedure.’
    • ‘To secure the screws, thread the nylon thumbnuts until it reaches the nylon washer, securing it thumb tight.’
    • ‘The tools can perform internal turning, grooving and threading in holes as small as 1-mm diameter.’
    • ‘The fan has dimensions of 70x70x15, and is held in place with four screws, threaded in the proper manner.’
    • ‘For example, in an old truss section, bolts unexpectedly threaded into concrete made the old bridge sections harder to lift.’
    • ‘Jonah rigged up a narrow plywood sheet with screws threaded in at various points; it's now our camera mount and steadicam in one.’
    • ‘At fault was a cadmium-plated, carbon-steel jackscrew threaded through an aluminum pivot block.’
    • ‘The case is threaded at the base and screws right onto the gauge.’
    • ‘That way you'll have a little wiggle room to finesse each screw into its respective hole and get it threaded.’
    • ‘He squats beside the machine, threading a screw the size of a flea, his eyes watering, face crimson and swollen.’
    • ‘The forward ring of the receiver is slit and then threaded for a fairly large Allen screw which effectively clamps the barrel.’
    • ‘On the back part of the upper table are two threaded screws.’
    • ‘Heron of Alexandria described the screw in Mechanica in the first century A.D., and archeologists have unearthed threaded bolts at early Roman sites.’
    • ‘Another brass screw was threaded into the side of the wooden body to clamp the position of the depth guide.’
    • ‘The second thread quickly joins the first so that the major portion of the screw remains single threaded.’
    • ‘Each of the screw holes used to mount the front fan is threaded, and long screws are provided.’
    • ‘Sheet metal screws are threaded completely from the point to the head, and the threads are sharper than those of wood screws.’
    • ‘For hardwoods, such as flooring, siding and rafters, use spiral threaded nails that turn as they are driven into the wood.’
    • ‘Where the strainer is threaded underneath, a washer slips on and then a lock nut is tightened down until the putty oozes out.’


  • hang by a thread

    • Be in a highly precarious state.

      • ‘Many jobs are hanging by a thread with the Small Firms Association warning yesterday that thousands of jobs are at risk this year.’
      • ‘The tax authorities must be aware that York City's future hangs by a thread.’
      • ‘With their titles hopes hanging by a thread - they trail leaders Alfreton by 12 points, but with four games in hand - every victory has added importance for Pickering.’
      • ‘So the legendary highwayman's fame may hang by a thread: a chance story told to a boy who remembered it and grew up to become a novelist.’
      • ‘But whatever had triggered it - impulsiveness, buttressing his position, or to soothe whatever remained of his conscience - his position hung by a thread.’
      • ‘Mountain gorilla populations are extremely tenuous and chimpanzees are hanging by a thread.’
      • ‘As things stand, a season that began with the usual high hopes of success in Europe still hangs by a thread.’
      • ‘Now Louis is fully recovered, and it is hard to believe looking at this happy little boy that his life once hung by a thread.’
      • ‘Several of those species hang by a thread, with less than a few hundred individuals surviving.’
      • ‘Their sanity is obviously hanging by a thread as it is.’
      uncertain, insecure, unreliable, unsure, unpredictable, undependable, risky, hazardous, dangerous, unsafe, hanging by a thread, hanging in the balance, perilous, treacherous, on a slippery slope, on thin ice, touch-and-go, built on sand, doubtful, dubious, delicate, tricky, problematic
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  • lose the (or one's) thread

    • Be unable to follow what someone is saying or remember what one is going to say next.

      • ‘And so the conversation will be interrupted for them to explain what it is, who's in it, and by the time they've finished they've lost their thread completely.’
      • ‘Even so, the story sometimes wanders and risks losing the thread of the narrative.’
      • ‘She was losing her thread, but she tried again, and grinned desperately.’
      • ‘It wasn't so bad if she did her work without really thinking about it, allowed her body to function autonomously, and let her mind wander and sometimes even lose the thread completely.’
      • ‘At this point I lost my thread and was unable to write a further paragraph.’
      • ‘Throughout our chat their fingers continue to fly around their latest creations, knotting a string here and threading a string there without ever losing the thread of their conversation.’
      • ‘I have been at home at the start of one of these drama episodes, been out for a game of soccer, had a long bike ride home and a pizza and still not lost the thread of the story.’
      • ‘You've made me lose my thread.’
      • ‘It's achingly frustrating for the count to keep losing his thread, his memory, his balance.’
      • ‘I lost my thread a couple of times after I'd ad-libbed some new bits.’


Old English thrǣd (noun), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch draad and German Draht, also to the verb throw. The verb dates from late Middle English.