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nickname for a person with red hair or a ruddy complexion, from Middle English re(a)d ‘red’. topographic name for someone who lived in a clearing, from an unattested Old English ried, r¯d ‘woodland clearing’. habitational name from various places: Read in Lancashire, the name of which is a contracted form of Old English r?gheafod, from r?ge ‘female roe deer’, ‘she-goat’ + heafod ‘head(land)’; Rede in Suffolk, so called from Old English hreod ‘reeds’; or Reed in Hertfordshire, so called from an Old English ryhð ‘brushwood’.
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press