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The tread of a tire or track refers to the rubber on its circumference that makes contact with the road or the ground. As tires are used, the tread is worn off, limiting its effectiveness in providing traction. A worn tire can often be retreaded.
The word tread is often used casually to refer to the pattern of grooves molded into the rubber, but those grooves are correctly called the tread pattern, or simply the pattern. The grooves are not the tread, they are in the tread. This distinction is especially significant in the case of racing slicks, which have a lot of tread but no grooves.

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