Main definitions of lead in English

: lead1lead2



  • 1Cause (a person or animal) to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, a rope, etc. while moving forward.

    ‘she emerged leading a bay horse’
    • ‘More tears sprang to her eyes, but she headed towards the door to be led off by the guards.’
    • ‘He led her with a rope tied around her hands.’
    • ‘The blonde girl stepped forward leading a sickly boy of about two.’
    • ‘After a brief sentencing hearing, Ms. Wilson is led off to begin to serve her time.’
    • ‘He dismounted and told Alana to slide back into the saddle, he would lead Charger along the trails on foot.’
    • ‘It is often said that you can't push a bull, you can only lead it from the front.’
    • ‘She pulled the horse to a halt, and led him by the rope.’
    • ‘On the way, with Jomo quietly walking beside the horses, leading them, Zara asked why there were two horses since the cart was small enough for only one horse.’
    • ‘You can also attach a lead rope to him and lead him around with you as you clean.’
    • ‘He emerged leading a woman in white silk.’
    • ‘The multimillionaire, clad in a red prison garb, was led in handcuffs through a throng of TV cameras.’
    • ‘She leads her husband by the hand like a child.’
    • ‘The Herald carried on its front page one of the suspects being led in handcuffs by detectives from his home.’
    • ‘He took her by the hand and led her quickly forward, forcing her to jog to keep up with his long strides.’
    guide, conduct, show, show someone the way, lead the way, usher, escort, steer, pilot, marshal, shepherd
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    1. 1.1with object and adverbial of direction Show (someone or something) the way to a destination by going in front of or beside them.
      ‘she stood up and led her friend to the door’
      • ‘He led two injured colleagues down a stairwell and then returned to help take another out on a stretcher.’
      • ‘The Greeks held the pass but eventually a traitorous Greek led a Persian force through the hills to the rear of the Greek forces, who were subsequently massacred.’
      • ‘A shepherd leads his flock of 50 from the Tuscan hills back to the farm.’
      • ‘Brooke led her sister through the house and down the stairs.’
      • ‘She put a blue nylon halter on him and led him to the barn, making soothing noises.’
      • ‘Dad had stood up smiling and led the way back to the front door.’
      • ‘I grinned as two guards stepped forward and began leading me out of the room.’
      • ‘Soon enough, Cate took charge and led the others up the tunnel, the torch held ahead of her.’
      • ‘He led them inside with his typical fearlessness.’
      • ‘She led them to the front desk, where an old man with graying hair sat reading an old newspaper.’
      • ‘The flight attendant led them to the first class seats.’
      • ‘He led them to the front gate and used the keycard to open the door.’
      • ‘He leads you on further through more passages and rooms until finally you arrive at your table.’
      • ‘He ploughed on, leading his stallion down the path and into the woods.’
      • ‘Raymond leads them to his friend's bungalow at the end of the shore.’
      • ‘After the service, a police escort led the funeral parade to the cemetery in Cricklade Road.’
      • ‘They lead the caravan through the pass, towards the steep descent that marked its exit.’
      • ‘She took his halter and began leading him along the edge of the cliffs.’
      • ‘He led his sisters through the forest.’
      • ‘Brady walked in front of them and led them towards the cabin.’
      be at the head of, be at the front of, head, spearhead
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  • 2usually lead tono object, with adverbial of direction Be a route or means of access to a particular place or in a particular direction.

    ‘the door led to a long hallway’
    ‘a farm track led off to the left’
    • ‘He said it was near impossible to walk the riverbank route because it led down to a dead end.’
    • ‘The old stairs led down into a small, single square room with an empty slate floor.’
    • ‘Through the window the craftsman can see the road that leads, in one direction, to the centre of the town and, in the other, to the next village, where his sister now lives.’
    • ‘The house had a long sprawling drive which led to the car park, it was a very posh place indeed.’
    • ‘This route led away from the lake through bracken and heather, over a ridge between two hills.’
    • ‘A flight of stairs led down into the darkness.’
    • ‘Two sets of double doors lead to a spacious conservatory from where double doors lead out to the lawned back garden.’
    • ‘He was now gesturing to us, pointing in the direction of the stairs leading out of the dorm.’
    • ‘This door led into a large entrance hall extending up to a glass domed roof.’
    • ‘There will be seating in the ticket office and automatic doors leading on to a covered waiting area and doors leading onto the platform.’
    • ‘‘The routes leading into Leeds from this part of the city are already seriously overcrowded,’ he added.’
    • ‘The back door led straight into the kitchen.’
    • ‘The marina has an adjacent pavilion at the top of a hill, with a staircase leading up to it.’
    • ‘An outside dormitory door that led directly into one of the stairwells was in its fully open and unlocked position.’
    • ‘Child alert pool alarms are also required to be fitted onto any door leading directly from the property into the pool area.’
    • ‘One evening I attempted to open the sliding glass door leading onto my balcony.’
    • ‘A gate has been padlocked on an access road leading down to one beach to prevent vehicles getting too close.’
    • ‘There was a large spiral staircase leading into the hallway in the front.’
    • ‘The boatman beaches us on a spit of land leading up to a stone house surrounded by willows.’
    • ‘Bear right around the building facing you to join the main access track leading into the garden centre where you may be tempted by the various plants for sale.’
    open on to, give on to, connect to, connect with, provide a route to, communicate with
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    1. 2.1with object Be a reason or motive for (someone)
      ‘nothing that I have read about the case leads me to the conclusion that anything untoward happened’
      with object and infinitive ‘a fascination for art led him to start a collection of paintings’
      • ‘This same false confidence led him to drive recklessly.’
      • ‘However, instead of a steady march of discovery and triumph, reason has led us to believe there are limits to achievement.’
      • ‘We have been led to believe this technology is completely foolproof and it is not at all.’
      • ‘Natural selection leads us to expect animals to behave in ways that increase their own chances of survival and reproduction, not those of others.’
      • ‘It was a spell in the Cuban military that led him to choose a career in music.’
      • ‘Although there is no evidence that the path has led residents to drive less, it did have a profound effect on their lives.’
      • ‘Neighborhood disorder leads honest people to move out of the neighborhood or to lock themselves in their homes.’
      • ‘Now she lives alone in an apartment with her four cats, a solitude that has led her to consider moving to a monastery.’
      • ‘We are often led to believe that organic vegetables, free-range meat and handmade cheeses are luxury products.’
      • ‘In the rest of this article, we discuss the ideas and reasoning that led us to our final decision.’
      • ‘This chapter reviews the reasons which led Britain to seek entry, and the factors that have created tension with other member states.’
      • ‘His success led other parties to pledge to re-examine the country's generous refugee policy.’
      • ‘It is that fondness for delving into experiences and locations that leads John to acknowledge that some people say he lives in the past rather than the present.’
      • ‘Omar's reflections on his wife's motives lead him to contemplate his own life.’
      • ‘The user is led to believe their card isn't working and the card is then kept by the device.’
      • ‘When did the idea for the game first arise, and what were the key reasons that led you to decide to go ahead and develop it?’
      • ‘Is the presence of a computer in a classroom as important as we are led to believe?’
      • ‘The fellow who shuffled in was in every way the opposite of what I had been led to expect.’
      • ‘The person or parties responsible for this terrible tragedy have yet to come forward which leads officials here to wonder who the next target is, if there is one.’
      • ‘This has led the government to try to limit wage increases to below that level.’
    2. 2.2no object Culminate or result in (a particular event or consequence)
      ‘closing the plant will lead to 300 job losses’
      ‘fashioning a policy appropriate to the situation entails understanding the forces that led up to it’
      • ‘The workers believe that complete privatisation of the bank will lead to mass layoffs.’
      • ‘She would suffer if she was sent to prison and would have to close her business, leading to the loss of two jobs.’
      • ‘This led on to a discussion about the war.’
      • ‘His early fondness for working with horses led on to his interest in showjumping.’
      • ‘The crash left her with a blood clot which led to a massive stroke paralysing one half of her body.’
      • ‘His family are convinced the drug was the cause of the depression which led to his death.’
      • ‘This led to a court battle with the council over custody of one of her sons and him remaining in care.’
      • ‘They are also worried that the development would ruin the area and lead to a loss of amenities.’
      • ‘His attempts at reform ultimately led to his downfall, and he has lived in exile in Italy since 1973.’
      • ‘This will lead to loss of trade to the shopkeepers who are all having a hard enough time to make ends meet as it is.’
      • ‘Pub landlords and club owners claim a ban will ruin trade and could lead to the loss of jobs.’
      • ‘It would probably have led on to granting Catholics exemption from tithes and the authority of Anglican courts.’
      • ‘Early radio drama led on to television parts and minor roles in movies.’
      • ‘Unexpectedly a comment I made in passing led on to a fascinating discussion.’
      • ‘That led on to winning the FA Cup that year, and the European Cup Winners Cup in 1991.’
      • ‘Further investigation led to the arrest of nine other gang members.’
      • ‘Symptoms include fever, violent spasms, panic, hallucinations and coma leading eventually to death.’
      • ‘Each union campaign actually led to a decrease in the hours worked by Australian workers.’
      • ‘The events of that day have led on to a war.’
      • ‘This led on to a Saturday job for which I got paid peanuts for washing hair, making teas and coffees and sweeping up.’
      • ‘The function of the kidneys may be impaired, leading eventually to failure.’
      • ‘Her selfless act of bravery led to the conviction of two girls who had mugged a pensioner.’
      • ‘The investigation led to no arrests or convictions.’
      • ‘The second led on to an examination of the contribution that recent brain research might make.’
      • ‘This has led to a fall in prices greater than most of us in the trade can recall.’
      • ‘A terrible cycle is established that will eventually lead to lower quality of care.’
      • ‘Sudden ruptures of the artery can lead to fatal blood loss or severe brain damage.’
      • ‘All we're told is that two cars bumped each other which led to a fight breaking out.’
      • ‘The bawdy humour came straight out of the music hall and it's a British tradition that led on to the Carry On films, Benny Hill and Les Dawson.’
      • ‘In some cases, they led on to research which was closer to ‘participant observation’.’
      • ‘Anyway, this then led on to a discussion of the hymns - well, songs, really - which we had to sing in primary assembly.’
      • ‘He was later discharged with two scarred lungs which led to heart problems and a stroke.’
      • ‘I agree with the opinion about how it can led on to harder drugs for certain people, but this is not everyone.’
      • ‘Exciting results from early small trials led on to several large studies of low dose aspirin.’
      • ‘The earliest instruments were made of a tube of wood, which led on to the Post Horn.’
      result in, cause, bring on, bring about, call forth, give rise to, be the cause of, make happen, create, produce, occasion, effect, engender, generate, contribute to, be conducive to, add to, be instrumental in, have a hand in, have a part in, help, promote, advance
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  • 3Be in charge or command of.

    ‘a military delegation was led by the Chief of Staff’
    • ‘Each company is commanded by a major and consists of four platoons, led by a captain and sergeant first class.’
    • ‘An Allied command team had been formed in 1943, led by General Dwight D. Eisenhower.’
    • ‘At present, the school is being led by a unique management team.’
    • ‘The military, led by General Fidel Ramoz, refused its continued support.’
    • ‘Millions of Italian voters will go to the ballot boxes today and tomorrow to decide who leads the next Italian government.’
    • ‘He is responsible for leading the Metropolitan Police Service.’
    • ‘On that day the Chilean military, led by General Pinochet, overthrew the elected president, Salvador Allende.’
    • ‘In August 1914, he was re-called to military service to lead the Eighth Army in Prussia.’
    • ‘The delegation will be led by Representative Curt Weldon, a Republican from Pennsylvania.’
    • ‘He said the team would be led by the UN military adviser.’
    • ‘He appointed his most loyal friend to lead the army.’
    • ‘Firm in our resolve, focused on our mission, and led by a superb commander in chief, we will prevail.’
    • ‘Why did King Philip select a man who had never been to sea before to lead the world's then largest naval fleet?’
    • ‘Each team will be led by a working supervisor and based at the nearest available council depot.’
    • ‘Relieved of command, he led IX Corps for much of the rest of the war.’
    • ‘He led an official Chinese delegation, which visited the northern Black Sea resorts over the weekend.’
    • ‘The Viking army, led by Harald Hardrada of Norway, charged into battle and trapped the English in a pincer movement.’
    • ‘He proposed that a delegation of farm employees, led by himself, should go north to meet Lord Erne.’
    • ‘He is leading the official U.S. delegation to the areas battered by the tsunami.’
    • ‘This meant that they had to take on Fighter Command, led by Sir Hugh Dowding, of the Royal Air Force.’
    be the leader of, be the head of, preside over, hold sway over, head
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    1. 3.1 Organize and direct.
      ‘the conference included sessions led by people with personal knowledge of the area’
      • ‘He had travelled to Greece on an excursion organised by Touchdown Tours, led by Surrey man Paul Coppin.’
      • ‘She leads singing groups for boys and girls, teaching them traditional songs.’
      • ‘The meeting was led by the assistant to the National Police chief for intelligence affairs.’
      • ‘The session was organised and led by the Community Librarian for Warminster.’
      • ‘Paddy, who is one of the original Folk Choir now leads the group and has given wonderful commitment in trying to keep the group together for a number of years.’
      • ‘Four aviators were selected as the pilots to be trained in a program led by test pilot Scott Crossfield.’
      • ‘Laura usually does all the games, and Jason leads the Bible study.’
      • ‘They have received specialist training led by Stephen Attwood, a consultant surgeon at Hope.’
      • ‘On Saturday morning there was a meditation followed by a session on healing led by a psychotherapist.’
      • ‘The groups consisted of six to eight volunteer general practitioners, each led by an experienced group leader.’
      • ‘One of the passengers from the Turkey flight became so frustrated that she stood on the stairway near the carousel and led a rebellion.’
      • ‘He leads a tour for Friends of the Royal Academy to Picasso museums and sites in Barcelona, Madrid and Malaga.’
      • ‘No droning or monotonous lectures, the professor's job is to lead and move the discussion.’
      • ‘Those wanting to get a little closer to their dates can hit the dance floor and join the salsa experience, led by experts in the dance.’
      • ‘In his spare time, he leads the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, a network of more than 3,000 people who claim to have seen the Sasquatch.’
      • ‘The course will be led by an experienced tutor with training in French, English and Caribbean cookery.’
      • ‘She had led a £100m management buyout just one year previously.’
      • ‘The walk will be led by experienced guides who will give a talk on the history and folk lore of the areas.’
      • ‘Instructor Mark Sullivan will be leading the sessions and will also be offering advice on nutrition and training.’
      • ‘A project leader was an experienced field biologist responsible for leading field activities.’
    2. 3.2 Be the principal player of (a group of musicians)
      ‘since the forties he has led his own big bands’
      • ‘The musicians were members of the Scottish Symphony Orchestra, led by violinist Robert McFall.’
      • ‘Hutchinson, a singer and musician who once led the Straight Ahead Jazz ensemble, does vocals on the disc.’
      • ‘The group has a wide repertoire and is led by Carol Green, a music teacher, choir trainer and flautist.’
      • ‘The Bristol-based Emerald Orchestra is led by Roger Huckle with conductor Benjamin Nicholas.’
      • ‘Blues Breakdown, the regular house band, were amiably led by organiser Mike Ford on guitar and lead vocals.’
      be at the head of, be at the front of, head, spearhead
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    3. 3.3 Set (a process) in motion.
      ‘they are waiting for an expansion of world trade to lead a recovery’
      • ‘The current phase of recovery has been led by consumption rather than by investments.’
      • ‘Even in Japan, the recent recovery was almost entirely led by exports.’
      • ‘Hungary, Poland and Slovenia may well lead an accelerating regional recovery process.’
      • ‘It is a natural and familiar process of economic growth, led by economic connections between regions.’
      take the first step, initiate things, break ground, break new ground, blaze a trail, lay the foundation, lay the first stone, set in motion, prepare the way, set the ball rolling, take the initiative, make the first move, make a start
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    4. 3.4lead with" or "lead off withno object Start.
      ‘the radio news led with the murder’
      ‘Ned leads off with a general survey of the objectives’
      • ‘My parents may watch a lot of television, but they don't care for the local news leading off with murders.’
      • ‘It certainly gave me a heart-starter when John Howard led off with - there's going to be casualties here and I'm the man to lead you.’
      • ‘The station instead chose to lead off with the news that Ryanair is set to lose reduced landing fees at Charleroi Airport.’
      • ‘After Richard's powerful 15-minute pitch leading with the one simple word("Shoes!"), Alistair Spaulding greenlit the show immediately.’
      • ‘Craig Bateman led off with a double followed by singles to Mick Youngberry, Matt Buckley, Terry Youngberry, Dave Youngberry, Jeff Mackney and a double to Matt Gahan.’
      • ‘The Wall Street Journal led off with an editorial October 18, and a week later the campaign had spread to the television networks and other daily newspapers.’
      • ‘One slide led with the worrisome stat that "Roughly a quarter of pirates cite speed as a reason for pirating."’
      • ‘Maybe she should have led with the "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," because no one was impressed.’
      • ‘Leading off with appetizers, there are all kinds of delicious options.’
      • ‘Two weeks ago, Stewart led off with a news story from CNN.’
      begin, start, start off, open, get going
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    5. 3.5lead withno object Make an attack with (a particular punch or fist)
      ‘Adam led with a left’
      • ‘In the middle rounds, Calderon also began to mix a right hook into his offensive game plan, both punctuating combinations and leading with this rediscovered weapon.’
      • ‘He led with a wild flurry of punches, but they were blocked effortlessly.’
      • ‘He charged the man on the left, leading with his right fist and smashing it into the man's jaw dropping him to the floor.’
    6. 3.6no object (of a base runner) be in a position to run from a base while standing off the base.
      • ‘Then all of the sudden I'd hear Vin coming in clear as a bell talking about Davey Lopes leading off of first base or something, and it was like a free ice cream cone had appeared in my hand.’
      • ‘A runner leading off second looks in at the catcher's signs and then signals to the batter.’
    7. 3.7 (in card games) play (the first card) in a trick or round of play.
      ‘he led the ace and another heart’
      • ‘In fact it is a normal tactic to lead lower spades to try to drive out the queen.’
      • ‘These games also have strong restrictions on the cards that can be led or played to a trick.’
      • ‘The person to the dealer's left leads a card, and everyone else plays a card, clockwise.’
      • ‘Discarding a picture card of a suit warns your partner not to lead that suit.’
      • ‘If you happen to have both aces in a suit, then it is not urgent to lead one.’
      begin, start, start off, open, get going
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  • 4no object Have the advantage over competitors in a race or game.

    with complement ‘he followed up with a break of 105 to lead 3-0’
    with object ‘the Wantage jockey was leading the field’
    • ‘The pitcher who led the American League the most times in winning percentage is Lefty Grove.’
    • ‘You are the first Spaniard to lead the World Championship - how does that feel?’
    • ‘The visitors were leading 2-1 with the game entering the final minute when Toby Capstick snatched the equaliser.’
    • ‘After easily leading most of the event, the team lost five laps due to two cable failures and fell to fifth in class.’
    • ‘As a result Hislop, who leads nearest rival Sean Emmett by 13 points, had to rely on his time from the morning session of 51.542 sec.’
    • ‘In a thrilling match, Bury led at the interval by one run, only to allow Bolton a comeback in the second innings and take the game by 10 runs.’
    • ‘He was leading after five events, but botched his floor exercise in the final rotation.’
    • ‘Grandera leads the World Series standings with 28 points, four more than stablemate Marienbard in second with 24.’
    • ‘Brent Charleton, who leads the Canada West Conference in scoring with 21.7-points per game, finished with 22 points.’
    • ‘The players were leading Italy 1-0 and left the field at the break to a standing ovation.’
    • ‘Through Monday, he leads the Philadelphia Park jockey standings with 139 wins in 578 starts.’
    • ‘The extra period remained close, and once again Avenue edged ahead, leading 78-76.’
    • ‘Derry got off to a great start and they led at the end of the first quarter, 16-2.’
    • ‘That means that they were leading by two holes with just one hole to play, therefore, that match was over.’
    • ‘However, he led other National League third basemen in fielding only once in the ten seasons he won the award.’
    • ‘Carleton has finished ahead the last two years and is leading by 10 this year as well.’
    • ‘Champion jockey Darley, with four winners, leads the jockeys' competition.’
    • ‘By lap 35 he was leading but the race was far from being over.’
    • ‘The man who stands third on the Volvo Order of Merit was leading the tournament until he dropped two strokes on the 11 th and one on the 16th.’
    • ‘Only 2001 champion Jeff Gordon led more races and more times than Marlin last season.’
    • ‘Stewart had the dominant car through most of the race, leading for 283 laps.’
    • ‘Martin has led in 14 consecutive races dating to the final race of last season at Atlanta.’
    • ‘She led at 250m, stretching ahead as the Lithuanian slipped away.’
    • ‘He led the National League in wins eight times and in complete games nine times.’
    • ‘Skipper Dean Barker led pretty much all the way and was 180 metres ahead just before the final mark.’
    • ‘He led throughout the race and qualified for the A-final with the fastest time.’
    • ‘He pitched in 90 or more games in three seasons, leading the National League in each those years.’
    • ‘In the 15-lap event, he was leading until stewards forced him into the pits after the rear bumper began peeling off his car.’
    • ‘A patient power hitter, he led the National League in home runs twice and in walks four times.’
    • ‘The Argentine jockey leads the competition with 21 points.’
    • ‘He led the 2004 Masters after 36 holes, only to drop off the leaderboard.’
    • ‘United led for most of the game, but were rarely on top.’
    • ‘Latvia led from the start racing in the middle of the field with Spain in second.’
    • ‘He led for the entire race and was only caught in the last couple of strides.’
    • ‘He has led the Fair Grounds jockey standings for the last three years.’
    • ‘She suffered the same fate in the 2001 world championships, leading until the final lap where she was overtaken by a trio of Ethiopians.’
    • ‘It looked all over in the second game when the Tyrone girls forged ahead and led by 19-8.’
    • ‘The following summer, Bonds played his first full season and led the National League in runs scored.’
    • ‘She had led the U12 field up the climb but faded at the top to finish third overall in the race.’
    be ahead, be winning, be in front, be out in front, be in the lead, be first, come first
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    1. 4.1with object Be superior to (competitors or colleagues)
      ‘there will be specific areas or skills in which other nations lead the world’
      • ‘The country's operators have led the way in experimenting with the wireless music business.’
      • ‘In the past, the company has frequently led the way leaving competitors to rush around behind it.’
      • ‘The United States, because of its large research base, has led in initiating technology.’
      • ‘In pioneering a new sort of scholarly publication the National Trust could lead the world.’
      • ‘Swimming became a popular national exercise in which, for many decades, Britain led the world.’
      • ‘All these considerations indicate clearly why countries like the USA and Japan lead the world in the innovation and exporting of high-technology products.’
      be at the front of, be first in, be ahead of, head
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  • 5Have or experience (a particular way of life)

    ‘she's led a completely sheltered life’
    • ‘Fear is a personal demon that must be harnessed and managed by each and every one of us if we are to lead and experience truly fulfilled lives.’
    • ‘What factors cause people to drop out of their present lives and lead a completely separate existence in another country?’
    • ‘I feel like I've been kept in the dark over this, either that or I've led a very sheltered life.’
    • ‘Children with diabetes can lead normal, healthy lives if their diabetes is managed properly.’
    • ‘He had many friends and led an active life right up to the very end.’
    • ‘He made a good recovery but had to lead a quieter life.’
    • ‘I'll be the first to admit that I've led a somewhat sheltered life since arriving in Bulgaria last January.’
    • ‘My mate reckons I've led a very sheltered life.’
    • ‘Tyler would lead a completely different life from his parents.’
    • ‘My aim is to lead a completely nonviolent life, in which I harm nothing.’
    • ‘I thought how lucky we are to be able to take command of our lives by leading a healthy and active lifestyle.’
    • ‘Alice is in her first year of a B.A., has long curly hair, and has led an overly sheltered life.’
    • ‘She is receiving regular treatment and leading an extremely active and healthy life.’
    • ‘I've led a very sheltered existence and haven't got a clue what it's like in the real world.’
    • ‘We welcome anyone to Bolton if their intention is to lead a responsible law-abiding life.’
    • ‘The three friends are rich and leading a life of luxury after having won all that reward money in the previous film.’
    • ‘Others went on to lead normal, peaceable lives.’
    • ‘They obviously have been leading very private, very separate lives for many years now.’
    • ‘She leads a rather sheltered life, working as a nurse and residing in a state run asylum.’
    • ‘Charles will be taking his GCSEs at Bingley Grammar School this year and is managing to lead a relatively normal life.’
    experience, have, live, pass, spend, undergo
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  • 1The initiative in an action; an example for others to follow.

    ‘Britain is now taking the lead in environmental policies’
    • ‘They are nowhere to be seen in precisely the very forum where they should be taking the lead.’
    • ‘I am calling on every member of this party to follow the lead I have given.’
    • ‘Most heavy drinking and even drug taking is experimental or done to follow the lead of friends, and may only be tried a few times.’
    • ‘She said the Government's proposals had too many exemptions to be effective and it would be good for the city to be taking its own lead on the issue.’
    • ‘She is not one to follow the lead of others and will say things regardless of the impact it will have on her political career.’
    • ‘Well done to Wandsworth Council for taking the lead in this initiative.’
    • ‘They have been praised for taking up the issue and it is hoped other schools will follow their lead.’
    • ‘There is always the temptation to follow the lead of your friends, neighbors, or idols.’
    • ‘The school will also follow the lead of 30 other schools in the borough and operate a daily breakfast bar.’
    • ‘I am going to follow the lead of a number of other bloggers and take a break now (another one, I know).’
    • ‘Here is a case where the military can afford to follow the lead of industry in many areas and adapt what is available.’
    • ‘Let us follow the lead of pesticide-free cities and make a safe and beautiful home for us all to live in.’
    • ‘Each Area conducted their own ballot, and it was expected that the others would follow the lead set by the Yorkshire Area.’
    • ‘But I think it is parents who really need to be taking the lead on good diet by helping their children to form healthy eating habits.’
    • ‘Rich countries should follow the lead of poor countries and adopt a more systematic way of controlling the cost of drugs’
    • ‘Sasha impressed the judges by taking the lead and looking after some of the younger children attending the event.’
    • ‘The United Nations is responsible for enforcing its resolutions and should take the lead.’
    • ‘But why should the UK follow the lead of these progressive European countries and US states?’
    • ‘Thank you for taking the lead and showing us that one person can make a difference.’
    • ‘He said there was no intention to follow the lead of some other professional firms by quitting Bradford in favour of Leeds.’
    first position, head place, forefront, primacy, dominance, superiority, precedence, ascendancy
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    1. 1.1 A piece of information that may help in the resolution of a problem.
      ‘detectives investigating the murder are chasing new leads’
      ‘I have a lead on a job that sounds really promising’
      • ‘Harry and the Contessa are called away to Venice, where an old friend has a new lead on an insurance scam.’
      • ‘They can coordinate actions, track down leads, and research other law enforcement tools.’
      • ‘But detectives said most of these leads had been followed up without any sign of a breakthrough in the case.’
      • ‘Detectives searching for a missing Hull woman are following new leads which suggest she may have headed off to see her boyfriend after all.’
      • ‘She said there have been no leads or clues to their whereabouts.’
      • ‘They can bring in other officers when they need to and they have been chasing all kinds of leads.’
      • ‘We are following up on certain leads and hope this information will lead us to a breakthrough.’
      • ‘Many new leads and interesting facts have been discovered about the past through this new medium.’
      • ‘Officers are looking for new leads and clues as they hunt the sex fiend who assaulted a 17-year-old girl at knifepoint on February 25.’
      • ‘A congressional report into the attacks published a year ago found evidence that leads were overlooked.’
      • ‘Crimestoppers rewards of up to £5,000 are being offered to anyone who supplies a new lead.’
      • ‘Any leads or information would be greatly appreciated and can be reported to campus police at ext.4911.’
      • ‘After a dead body turns up in a camper, the two police forces come into competition for clues, leads, and solutions to the vicious crime.’
      • ‘Some days yield nothing by way of new information and fresh leads, while others open avenues hitherto blocked.’
      • ‘Our possible lead on a new home turned out to be a dead-end.’
      • ‘In fact it was Don who gave Bob the lead on a rental house in early September.’
      • ‘Following a vague lead on a job, Raphael finds himself in a basement sitting across from a man in a wheelchair.’
      • ‘Already appeals for information have brought a response and possible leads are being followed up very closely.’
      • ‘With no immediate strong leads and few clues on the home front, Detective Inspector John Capstick of Scotland Yard initially believed a London gang was responsible for the robbery.’
      • ‘At the time of Gene's call, I had already been preparing to check out a lead on an ivory-bill sighting in Louisiana.’
      • ‘He said the police, who have carried out house-to-house inquiries and put up posters about the shooting around the town, are following up leads into the attack but want more information.’
      clue, pointer, guide, hint, tip, tip-off, suggestion, indication, indicator, sign, signal, intimation, inkling
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Someone or something that may be useful, especially a potential customer or business opportunity.
      ‘setting up a social networking page can help you get numerous leads’
      ‘the goal of marketing is to generate leads so the sales people can close them’
      • ‘Planning an ongoing marketing campaign ensures a steady stream of new business leads.’
      • ‘Through the end of the third quarter, there were 252 leads generated.’
      • ‘He tells rookie brokers that community work should be something "they sincerely believe in" and not pursued with the intention to find leads.’
      • ‘There was consistent traffic, and we generated a significant number of good leads with many different types of buyers, big and small.’
      • ‘These groups share prospective leads between people in different businesses.’
      • ‘He made it a personal rule to generate at least one business lead for each new contact.’
      • ‘A key function of a salesperson is to assist in the process of identifying and generating leads in conjunction with marketing.’
      • ‘Companies need to be able to handle surges, otherwise the cost of generating leads is wasted and prospective customers who cannot get through may get such a bad impression of the company that they do not bother calling back.’
      • ‘The remaining $6 million in sales were brought in by resellers using leads generated from visitors to the site.’
      • ‘But believe it or not, many of those dropped leads can be turned into profitable business with a little extra sales effort.’
      • ‘What marketing activities (for example, how many calls) are needed to generate a solid lead?’
    3. 1.3 (in card games) an act or right of playing first in a trick or round of play.
      ‘it's your lead’
      • ‘The queen may take a trick with more points later or win the lead at a crucial moment.’
      • ‘If it was not the last trick, the lead for the next trick passes to the left.’
      • ‘The player on the dealer's right has the first lead, and the winner of the trick leads to the next trick.’
      • ‘Thereafter, the lead alternates between the two players, irrespective of who wins the tricks.’
      • ‘Pull as much trump as you can without giving away the lead before you go off into another suit.’
    4. 1.4 The card played first in a trick or round.
      ‘the ♦8 was an inspired lead’
      • ‘Most often no one will be able to beat the lead and the led cards will win the trick.’
      • ‘If the lead is a trump card all the other players must play trump as well unless they don't have any.’
      • ‘Some play that the first lead in stage three must be the lowest card in the player's hand.’
      • ‘Another possibility is to require that alternate leads are red and black.’
      • ‘The winner of the trick is the last person who played a card of the same rank as the original lead or a wild card.’
  • 2the leadA position of advantage in a contest; first place.

    ‘the team burst into life and took the lead’
    ‘they were beaten 5-3 after twice being in the lead’
    • ‘We've gone in third and come out in the lead several times lately, and that is a real morale booster for the team.’
    • ‘After a goalless first half the home side took the lead just after the break.’
    • ‘They only had to wait five minutes to regain the lead with a try of real quality.’
    • ‘However, we made crucial errors, including one with four minutes to go when we were still in the lead!’
    • ‘I took the lead on lap 41 when I passed him on the inside at the hairpin, and went on to win.’
    • ‘However, the game was turned on its head in the space of two minutes with Villa taking the lead.’
    • ‘He was, however, mildly critical of them for dropping back and not seizing the initiative after taking the lead.’
    • ‘The second half was a thrill a minute, with the lead being exchanged frequently.’
    • ‘The Milan fans were really quiet until they took the lead, then it was as if someone just turned the volume up.’
    • ‘In a poor first half, the visitors did just enough to merit taking the lead.’
    • ‘He was in the lead by a 1.5-point margin and nobody seemed capable of spoiling his dream.’
    • ‘They were deservedly in the lead for three quarters of the game but were pipped on the post by a penalty five minutes from the end.’
    • ‘The following week, she took the lead in the overall World Cup.’
    • ‘Brazil, meanwhile, looked poor on the whole but created five great chances and are unlucky not to be in the lead.’
    • ‘You couldn't categorically say that Mexico deserve to be in the lead, but on the other hand they haven't done much wrong either.’
    • ‘He missed a series of chances, before and after United took the lead.’
    • ‘They should have won but became more cautious after they took the lead instead of going all out for a second goal.’
    • ‘He is tough to catch when he has the lead in the final round.’
    • ‘In fact they held the lead until midway through the second half when the festivities took their toll.’
    • ‘We took the lead through a penalty and the lad who gave the penalty away was lucky not to have been sent off.’
    leading position, leading place, first place, advance position, van, vanguard
    leading, first, top, foremost, front, head
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 An amount by which a competitor is ahead of the others.
      ‘the team held a slender one-goal lead’
      • ‘I was confident, knowing that with a minute lead over Jan, with the rain and the wind, I had no reason to take risks.’
      • ‘Going into the final day, Real Madrid had a one-point lead over bitter rivals Barcelona, who had not topped the table all season.’
      • ‘But the party still maintains a healthy eight-point lead over the Conservatives on 31%.’
      • ‘By the time they reached the turn Woods had reduced the deficit and taken a one-shot lead over Leonard.’
      • ‘With three league games left to play, one more than Liverpool, Everton hold a three-point lead over their neighbours.’
      • ‘Barry Eaton added the conversion to give the home side a six-point lead after 20 minutes.’
      • ‘A Robinson penalty just before half-time gave Hill a one-point lead at the break.’
      • ‘Australia hit back strongly, and a third Flatley penalty restored a four-point lead.’
      • ‘Ann held a two shot lead over her nearest competitor, Kay Fanning, after the final eighteen holes.’
      • ‘In the 2004 Asia Cup final, India enjoyed a one-goal lead against Japan at the same venue.’
      • ‘Cork gave their followers some heart-stopping moments after surrendering an eight-point lead in the second half.’
      • ‘But alas, my prediction was awry and Scunthorpe now bear a seemingly unassailable seven-point lead going into Christmas.’
      • ‘The good times were back we thought as a four points deficit was turned into a two-point half-time lead.’
      • ‘He could have given England a probably unassailable two-goal lead.’
      • ‘Chelsea held a 12-point lead over their nearest rivals, and continually found ways to win.’
      • ‘Wolves have come from behind to win six of their last seven games and build a five-point lead over City.’
      • ‘The British athlete ran a personal best to win the 400m and gain a one point lead over his rivals.’
      • ‘The Scot enters the final round with a three-shot lead as the European season climaxes today’
      • ‘They now have a four point lead over the Lancashire club and are eight points ahead of Oakworth.’
      • ‘The away side hit the woodwork in the opening minutes before Shipley opened a two-goal half-time lead.’
      winning margin, margin, gap, interval
      View synonyms
  • 3The chief part in a play or film.

    ‘she had the lead in a new film’
    as modifier ‘the lead role’
    • ‘The script was gritty and the role of the lead character interested Kirk Douglas greatly.’
    • ‘It has two fine actors in the leads, and some decent actors supporting.’
    • ‘So here she gets a big studio to give her a lead role where she plays a strong, self-reliant woman.’
    • ‘He has put off a gap-year trip to New Zealand to play one of the five lead roles in the drama.’
    • ‘Most of all, she was fortunate in finding the right young actress for the lead role.’
    • ‘So who do you think will take the lead role when Hollywood snaps up the movie rights?’
    • ‘Another choice the director made was to cast non-professional actors in the leads.’
    • ‘He is one of the most daring characters to appear as the lead in a major film in years.’
    • ‘Considering this is her first lead role in a feature film, she is very impressive.’
    • ‘She then goes for her first audition against opposition from 190 other girls and wins a lead in a Bollywood film.’
    • ‘A cast of four professional actors are to take the lead roles in the drama and are looking for people to fill out the cast.’
    • ‘If the film had been more serious or darker, and a better actress played the lead, I might have liked it much more.’
    • ‘The film might not have been so memorable with a more conventional actress in the lead.’
    • ‘In the 1950s, the actor Montgomery Clift turned down the lead parts in four films.’
    • ‘I'd like to play the lead in a feature film.’
    • ‘Unless it's an outright silent film, you are never going to see a film in which the lead characters have less dialogue than this one.’
    • ‘As an aspiring filmmaker and screenwriter, I would definitely use you in a lead role.’
    • ‘The show changes casts frequently, with a new female celebrity taking the lead in every new city.’
    • ‘In fact, she's desperate to get maximum exposure and sets her sights on the lead role in the school play.’
    • ‘He saw her on TV and gave her the lead in his film.’
    leading role, star role, starring role, star part, title role, principal part
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 The person playing the chief part.
      ‘he still looked like a romantic lead’
      • ‘The romantic leads have excellent voices, naturally, but also a presence that holds your attention.’
      • ‘The three leads approach their roles with gusto, but it's simply not enough to overcome a weak and wandering screenplay.’
      • ‘Apart from the two male leads who were professional actors, non-professionals played all the other roles.’
      • ‘He is not a strong enough actor to be the lead in a film, and that adds to the failure of the movie.’
      • ‘The two leads are playing roles they aren't suited for.’
      • ‘So when I was looking for a beautiful woman as a lead for my film, I saw the one she was in and thought she was very good.’
      • ‘The romantic leads ended up falling in love during the course the production and the rest, as they say, is history.’
      • ‘The 80-film-old Hollywood producer is scouting for a female lead for his new film.’
      • ‘He speaks as both the film's director and star, and rightly heaps praise on his cast, both leads and supporting actors, whose excellent work adds much depth to the film.’
      • ‘He heaps too much responsibility on his actors and thus strains the abilities of his two leads.’
      • ‘When you stop to think about it, this film is nothing without a strong lead in Stu's role.’
      • ‘Luckily, the chemistry between the romantic leads feels real.’
      • ‘As I have said dozens of times, romantic movies are made or broken by how well the leads interact with each other.’
      • ‘There's comedic and romantic potential in the concept of beautiful leads playing divorce lawyers who accidentally get married.’
      • ‘A few problems have kept him from succeeding: the script is banal and his two leads aren't great actors.’
      • ‘The four leads are not actors that instantly strike me as the master thespians of our age, and yet here they bring unique strengths and gifts to their characters.’
      • ‘I'm not sure either of the leads is a good actor.’
      • ‘It was all really quite endearing, and held up by the fact its leads could act and the script wasn't rubbish.’
      • ‘The female lead in the film was originally a medical student who became interested in acting.’
      • ‘One of the leads and her understudy were hurt when their trailer flipped.’
    2. 3.2usually as modifier The chief performer or instrument of a specified type.
      ‘a lead guitarist’
      • ‘These three make up the band's trio of lead vocalists and songwriters.’
      • ‘When bands break up, everyone from the lead singer to the rhythm guitarist releases a solo album.’
      • ‘The following week she flew to Las Vegas to begin rehearsals for her first eight-week stint as the lead soloist.’
      • ‘Contemporary music is played by an orchestra that mainly uses European instruments with a lead singer and chorus.’
      • ‘Steve plays all the other instruments and provides lead vocals too.’
      • ‘Eric was the lead singer and the main focal point of the band.’
      • ‘The performance as a whole and the lead dancers were very warmly received.’
      • ‘He is widely known as the composer of concertos, a form of music with a small orchestra and solo lead instrument.’
      • ‘Each track is very well constructed, with the percussion and synthetic sounds serving as lead instruments.’
      • ‘As a young musician he became the lead singer in a rock band.’
      • ‘All I have to do when writing a vocal track is bear in mind that the lead instrument will be the voice.’
      • ‘Four hours before the band was supposed to perform, the lead singer and guitarist was still in New York.’
      • ‘The drums are not just used as a way of keeping time with the song, but actually as a lead instrument.’
      • ‘As I said before, the drums and bass were often the lead instruments of the band.’
      • ‘The key to this production is the two lead performers.’
      • ‘He wanted his lead performers to have a great vocal presence.’
      • ‘The group repeats a chorus or claps while a lead singer or drummer sets the pace.’
      • ‘She couldn't help but smile at the group of fifteen year old girls gushing about how cute the lead dancer was.’
      • ‘Jeremy would sometimes get a solo in such cases, sharing them with Greg, the lead guitarist.’
      • ‘Susan joined BBC West's news team, based in Bristol, as a lead presenter in 1991.’
    3. 3.3 The item of news given the greatest prominence in a newspaper, broadcast, etc.
      ‘the ‘pensions revolution’ is the lead in the Times’
      as modifier ‘the lead story on CNN’
      • ‘Again, all the prime minister had to do was call for calm and he was part of the lead news story.’
      • ‘The lead story in the paper concerned a shipment of silver bullion, which had disappeared four months earlier.’
      • ‘To them, the lead story is the one with the biggest and boldest headline, whether it is to the right or the left.’
      • ‘Write your message as if it were the lead story on tonight's 6 o'clock television newscast.’
      • ‘Both local newspapers published lead editorials calling for the privatization of the system.’
      • ‘The fight was still the lead item on the local news last night.’
      • ‘The following morning, newspapers across Canada made the story their front-page lead.’
      • ‘It still grates that the Key/Collins thing is the lead on the TV news when MSM ignore the whole bigger picture that most of us seem to have successfully grasped’
      • ‘Our lead story in this week's edition of online is an examination of the criminal gangs who commit much of the world's cyber crime.’
      • ‘When a story like this is promoted to the lead item on national news bulletins, you know that all perspective has gone out of the window.’
      • ‘Her article is the lead in "The New York Times" today.’
      • ‘Can I say how refreshing it was to read your lead story on Dyslexia this week.’
      • ‘Readers can see the lead stories each day for free but virtually everything else requires a subscription.’
      • ‘The Indian Express, which was slipped beneath my hotel door, had the monsoon's arrival as its lead story.’
      • ‘The New Yorker magazine devoted its lead comment piece to a fervently argued case against war.’
      • ‘Highlights include our lead story on how tactical voting using the internet could prove crucial in the upcoming general election.’
      • ‘Formula one made the lead story on the front page of the Financial Times last week, for example, and for the wrong sort of reason.’
      • ‘There's no subtle coincidence at work in the two lead stories in Time magazine this week.’
      • ‘Rivalry between the Advertiser and the Register was fierce, and the two went to great lengths in competition for lead stories.’
      • ‘Tomorrow's New York Times is a carrying a lead story on the sizzling Indian economy.’
    4. 3.4US The opening sentence or paragraph of a news article, summarizing the most important aspects of the story.
      ‘the newswire will be offering two different leads for certain stories, so editors can pick and choose’
      • ‘Identifying the news, then, is the first key to editing a news lead.’
      • ‘After reading the lead, your reader makes a critical decision: shall I read on?’
      • ‘The lead is what attracts a reader's attention in the first place, but it is the body of the story that holds it.’
      • ‘Sometimes superlatives can be used to good effect in a lead.’
      • ‘The lead should tell the reader the most important information in the story.’
  • 4British A strap or cord for restraining and guiding a dog or other domestic animal.

    ‘the dog is our constant walking companion and is always kept on a lead’
    • ‘She was the inspiration for a collection of dog leads and collars I designed for a charity dog show at Harrods.’
    • ‘His first was Tara, whom he would take out on a lead around Belgravia after dark.’
    • ‘I would like to warn people about those dog leads that stretch in order that their animals can have a wander.’
    • ‘Or if the animal is on a lead, the owner stands apart as far as he can, looking away, thus making an attempt to disown it.’
    • ‘The prisoners were lifted to their feet, had their ankle bindings cut and ropes tied loosely round their necks like animal leads.’
    • ‘They managed to loop a lead round its neck but it continued attacking her.’
    • ‘You just wouldn't credit how difficult it is to take two little dogs out on leads.’
    • ‘One of the suspects let the animal off its lead and it ran after the victim.’
    • ‘Her comments have been backed by Bolton council chiefs, who are now advising people to keep their animals on leads.’
    • ‘The Jack Russell ran around the children, and the lead wrapped round the neck of one of them.’
    • ‘The dogs are starting to get a little impatient, but I'm glad to say they are not allowed off their leads until the first fox has been sighted.’
    leash, tether, rein, cord, rope, chain, line
    View synonyms
  • 5British A wire that conveys electric current from a source to an appliance, or that connects two points of a circuit together.

    • ‘Carry out a safety check: tidy trailing electrical leads, plug electricity points for young children and make sure your smoke detectors work.’
    • ‘I saw a telephone sure enough, but smashed to pieces, the bare wire of its leads stretched across the room.’
    • ‘If I switch on my desktop and plug the monitor lead into the back of my laptop, will my laptop act as a monitor for the desktop or will it blow it up?’
    • ‘It connects using an internal network card and a lead running to the router.’
    • ‘On several of the satellites, we wound up having to re-attach the wire leads in order to make good contact.’
    • ‘He starts dragging out wires and leads, trying to fix the patching.’
    • ‘But this was long before digital technology, and the device was really little more than a box of tricks with a vast number of leads and connections sprouting from a junction box in the corner of the room.’
    • ‘Police arrived at Osbaldwick Primary School in the early hours of yesterday morning to find a carpet of broken glass, and computer leads hanging out of the window.’
    • ‘We had to park the car right up against the bedroom window because the lead from the TV was too short to facilitate viewing anywhere else.’
    • ‘I checked the electrical leads, replaced a bolt someone had left out of the starter and tried to turn her over.’
    • ‘For the basic installation, the plus and minus 12-volt power leads are the only two other wires that need to be connected.’
    • ‘We'd better check the mains lead is plugged in properly at the back of your computer.’
    • ‘There was a large metal case, with various wires, leads, and tubes connected.’
    • ‘He saw a flex lead, grabbed it and tried to tie her to her chair.’
  • 6The distance advanced by a screw in one turn.

    • ‘The lead is the reciprocal of the number of turns required to advance the screw axially.’
    • ‘On a single thread screw the pitch and the lead are equal; on a double thread screw the lead is twice the pitch.’
  • 7An artificial watercourse leading to a mill.

    1. 7.1 A channel of water in an ice field.
      • ‘The drift-ice fields were forced together with such speed, that Johnsen supposed that in a couple of hours the whole lead would be completely closed.’
      • ‘They finally got the break they needed when they found a way over the open water lead after a 15-hour slog through the blizzard.’
      • ‘In the Arctic, highest productivity occurs near ice edges and areas of open water such as leads and spaces between unstable floes.’
      • ‘In winter and early spring, there is less open water, but a substantial fraction of new, thin ice forms in leads opened by the constant motion of the ice pack.’
      • ‘Winter ice pack consists of a diverse mix of ice of different thicknesses and floe sizes, and of open water in leads.’


  • bury the lead

  • lead someone astray

    • Cause someone to act or think foolishly or wrongly.

      ‘many people are led astray by strong feelings’
      • ‘Everyone he meets seems intent on leading him astray.’
      • ‘We have to avoid those whose purpose is to lead us astray.’
      • ‘They asked the police and Social Services to intervene because they feared the addict she was in love with was leading her astray.’
      • ‘I'd been intending to go to the gym, but Andy led me astray and I ended up in the pub.’
      • ‘He's about to be married, but she leads him astray in the funniest ways.’
      • ‘The school year is just beginning, so make a concentrated effort not to let others lead you astray.’
      • ‘He said: ‘It was my father who led me astray and gave me a sample of life abroad when we lived in America.’’
      • ‘But I have never lied to you before, nor led you astray.’
      • ‘Stay away from him, you are leading him astray, you are corrupting his simple mind.’
      • ‘What parent can guard against their child bumping into an unsavoury character who can lead them astray?’
  • lead someone by the nose

    • informal Control someone totally, especially by deceiving them.

      ‘the government has been led by the nose by the timber trade so that it suppressed the report’
      • ‘If there are impressionable folks out there looking for a guru to lead them by the nose, there are worse people they could latch onto.’
      • ‘As the two start to get drunk, Robby loses what little willpower he has been able to muster (why he is so weak is also unexplained by the film) and Shane leads him by the nose into disaster.’
      • ‘Many Europeans, in a way Americans find impossible to understand, are willing to let their elites lead them by the nose.’
      • ‘Mr Blair… is expected to lead Britain by the nose into the single currency.’
      • ‘And what's more, we don't need a politician to lead us by the nose through the ins and outs of what happens when a country is in the process of being colonised and asset stripped.’
      • ‘On this one the military are being led by the nose by the politicians.’
  • lead from the front

    • Take an active role in what one is urging and directing others to do.

      ‘in his two appearances as captain, he led from the front’
      • ‘Needless to say, he has also established himself as a successful captain who leads from the front.’
      • ‘He led from the front and was never found wanting.’
      • ‘The chief executive believes in leading from the front.’
      • ‘Both she and her husband are role models in their respective ways and should lead from the front.’
      • ‘Years after its formation, the association has led from the front in introducing various programmes for protecting the river.’
      • ‘He has grown into the role as captain of the club he clearly loves and leads from the front.’
      • ‘He leads from the front and will not accept anything but total commitment; other players respond to that.’
      • ‘Unlike many leaders, he led from the front rather than from behind.’
      • ‘He was good to have on your side and a great captain who led from the front.’
      • ‘He leads from the front which is what a good captain should do and he is very good at taking care of the younger players.’
  • lead someone up (or down) the garden path

    • informal Give someone misleading clues or signals.

      ‘in a crime novel, the reader has to be led up the garden path’
      • ‘The poor man is left wondering whether he was led up the garden path only to find out there is no free lunch in the offing.’
      • ‘No doubt there were angry phone calls last week from those writers who may have felt the company had led them up the garden path with its hints and spin.’
      • ‘She leads him up the garden path and into an increasingly messy saga of sex, lies and videotape.’
      • ‘She shouldn't have led her up the garden path.’
      • ‘Ministers were last night accused of leading Leeds down the garden path over its doomed Supertram project.’
      • ‘It's very hard to convince a customer that the accountant is leading them up the garden path.’
      • ‘The only person who led the Prime Minister down the garden path was the Prime Minister himself.’
      • ‘And if I've led you up the garden path just to give you a silly acronym by which to remember something simple and obvious, I'm sorry.’
      • ‘The man may have led her up the garden path, but why did she let him do it?’
      • ‘He said the people of Achill had been led up the garden path on the scheme.’
      deceive, mislead, lead on, delude, hoodwink, dupe, trick, ensnare, entrap, tempt, entice, allure, lure, beguile, tantalize, tease, frustrate, flirt with, inveigle, seduce, take in, fool, pull the wool over someone's eyes, gull
      View synonyms
  • lead with one's chin

    • 1informal (of a boxer) leave one's chin unprotected.

      • ‘If you've got a glass jaw and you lead with your chin, you shouldn't be surprised when you wind up unconscious on the canvas.’
      • ‘That's known in boxing parlance as leading with your chin.’
      • ‘Being out front hasn't always been pleasant for Meeks, who occasionally leads with his chin.’
      1. 1.1Behave or speak incautiously.
        ‘she led with the chin and got her own way most of the time’
        • ‘Until it can be clearly refuted, no one wants to take the chance of leading with their chin.’
        • ‘Just don't lead with your chin and rush in hoping for just one outcome: getting back together.’
        • ‘He led with his chin, demanding that long-term board members stand down because they were ‘too old.’’
        • ‘I am getting sick of her leading with her chin but she has once again taken the opportunity to do precisely that.’
        • ‘Does it really make sense to lead with your chin on raising middle-class taxes?’
        • ‘We think we understand what he's trying to achieve, but as usual, he seems to be leading with his chin.’
        • ‘So, out of an assumption she had made, without knowing it, or a wish or a fear she didn't know she had, she led with her chin.’
        • ‘And for a man who leads with his chin twice a week, he acts awfully surprised when someone takes a pop at it’
        • ‘In a largely politically correct town the candidate for mayor is leading with his chin.’
        • ‘Journalists are reluctant to traffic in old material - as long as the candidate isn't leading with his chin.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • lead someone on

    • Mislead or deceive someone, especially into believing that one is in love with or attracted to them.

      ‘she flirted with him and led him on’
      • ‘She had been playing around with Christian, toying with his emotions, leading him on… and all along she'd had a boyfriend on the side.’
      • ‘You led me on, making me believe you actually cared!’
      • ‘So before you go any further leading her on, you better figure out if you love her back or not.’
      • ‘Is he leading her on, or is this a love that will conquer the world?’
      • ‘It was unfair to Aaron for me to continue to lead him on like this when I was clearly still in love with Scott.’
      • ‘He claimed in the witness box that the woman had led him on.’
      • ‘He said the girls had invited him to the bedroom and claimed they had led him on.’
      • ‘I think I should really go for the kiss tonight to see if we have any attraction as I don't want to lead him on if there isn't any chemistry.’
      • ‘If she has never wanted something with me, then why has she led me on and told me that it will be different so many times?’
      • ‘I just couldn't believe I had lead you on and been so insensitive.’
      • ‘How long would you wait around if the girl you loved kept leading you on and then ditching you to date other men?’
      • ‘It's never OK to force yourself on a woman, even if you think that she has been teasing and leading you on.’
      • ‘I was worried that maybe I had given him the wrong idea, led him on in some way, that maybe he was expecting me to have sex with him.’
      • ‘Had she lead him on and made him believe something totally different?’
      • ‘Without flirting or leading him on, act the same way you used to.’
      • ‘I thought it must be my fault, I must have done something, I must have led him on.’
      • ‘Only half of me was in love with him, and I didn't want to lead him on.’
      • ‘She denied telling a hotel doorman that she was so drunk she couldn't remember what happened, or saying she was not sure if she led Mr Boone on.’
      • ‘She loathed Brent for leading her on, as she firmly believed he had.’
      • ‘He'd known for quite some time that she was in love with him, but he didn't want to lead her on.’
      deceive, mislead, delude, hoodwink, dupe, trick, take in, fool, pull the wool over someone's eyes, gull
      View synonyms
  • lead up to

    • Immediately precede.

      ‘the weeks leading up to the elections’
      • ‘Officers are keen to speak to anyone who saw him after that date and in the four days leading up to when he was found.’
      • ‘The days leading up to Christmas would be filled with the wrapping of gifts over there.’
      • ‘The story is about the days and weeks leading up to his discovery of the test results.’
      • ‘Could I now take your Honours to the passages which lead up to that?’
      • ‘In the weeks leading up to 13 August the Nazis attacked a series of black and left wing meetings.’
      • ‘We won eight games out of ten leading up to and during the New Year, which really made our mark.’
      • ‘Weeks of preparation and discussions led up to Friday's ballot.’
      • ‘Scotland, despite a poor series of results leading up to the tournament, possess lofty aspirations.’
      • ‘Mrs Wood also suggested her son had reduced his medication in the weeks leading up to his death.’
      • ‘Long before the supermarkets took hold, the days that led up to Christmas some 50 years ago were very busy times for the shopkeepers in all towns.’
      • ‘We hope to be seeing them on this program often in the months ahead leading up to election.’
      • ‘He had little recollection of what occurred after the incident, but a clear recollection of what led up to it.’


Old English lǣdan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch leiden and German leiten, also to load and lode.




Main definitions of lead in English

: lead1lead2



  • 1mass noun A soft, heavy, ductile bluish-grey metal, the chemical element of atomic number 82. It has been used in roofing, plumbing, ammunition, storage batteries, radiation shields, etc., and its compounds have been used in crystal glass, as an anti-knock agent in petrol, and (formerly) in paints.

    • ‘Important heavy metals emitted by traffic and industry are lead and copper.’
    • ‘Their enterprise really began to grow after they switched from silver to pewter, an alloy of lead and tin.’
    • ‘The most common cause of lead poisoning today is old paint with lead in it.’
    • ‘Crafted metal panels of copper, lead and even gold have changed little over the centuries.’
    • ‘They also detected high concentrations of lead and other heavy metals.’
    • ‘At the time she sank she had on board copper, lead and zinc ingots valued at over £300,000.’
    • ‘The gold is melted in a high temperature furnace along with lead and silver.’
    • ‘Drinking water also can become contaminated with pesticides, lead or other metals.’
    • ‘The growth in the mining sector was due to increases in the output of diamond, zinc, copper and lead.’
    • ‘Oxygen is also used in the production of other metals, such as copper, lead, and zinc.’
    • ‘Most older paints contain lead, the particles of which are released by any means of stripping.’
    • ‘Unknown quantities of mercury, lead, chromium and cadmium are also on board.’
    • ‘Large quantities of lead are used in ammunition for both military and sporting purposes.’
    • ‘There's evidence that heavy metals such as lead and cadmium can make osteoporosis worse.’
    • ‘Under the new rules, electronic equipment must be free of lead and other heavy metals.’
    • ‘This international metals and mining company has large businesses in alloys, copper and zinc, as well as gold, silver and lead.’
    • ‘Most metal sulfates are soluble in water, except for barium, lead, and strontium.’
    • ‘The heavy elements like gold or lead or uranium are very rare in the universe.’
    • ‘It is used because it is a heavier metal than lead and thus carries more impact against an armored target.’
    • ‘Its compounds tend to be found with ores of other metals, such as lead, silver, gold, and cobalt.’
    1. 1.1 Used figuratively as a symbol of something heavy.
      ‘Joe's feet felt like lumps of lead’
      • ‘My feet were like lead and I was struggling.’
      • ‘My arms and legs felt like lead, and I immediately collapsed to the ground.’
      • ‘On the odd occasion I spent an extra hour on the training ground, but my legs were like lead the following day during the match.’
  • 2An item or implement made of lead.

    1. 2.1leadsBritish Sheets or strips of lead covering a roof.
      • ‘The ladder was over-short, and it required an effort to heave oneself from it through the casement on to the leads.’
      • ‘The church was restored by the late Godfrey Allen, who renewed the leads of the roof.’
    2. 2.2British A piece of lead-covered roof.
    3. 2.3leads Lead frames holding the glass of a lattice or stained-glass window.
    4. 2.4Nautical A lump of lead suspended on a line to determine the depth of water.
      • ‘You'll feel weed fall against the line and the lead get picked up by the swell.’
      • ‘A man leaped into the chains, and lowering down the lead sounded in seven fathoms.’
      • ‘Some guy had probably come out in a rowing boat and dropped a lead line a few times on top of pinnacles like the one we had ascended, and marked the area as being flat.’
      • ‘Deep soundings above 6 fathoms (11 m) were impracticable so the practice then was to sound the depth using a line and lead.’
  • 3mass noun Graphite used as the part of a pencil that makes a mark.

    ‘scrawls done with a bit of pencil lead’
    • ‘The sliding motion of those sheets over each other gives pencil lead its properties.’
    • ‘Then I rubbed my lips, my beard, and my hands with pencil lead, and went to bed.’
    • ‘The transfer was made by first rubbing the back of their sketch with pencil lead.’
  • 4Printing
    A blank space between lines of print.


  • get the lead out

    • informal Move or work more quickly.

      • ‘I could hear Sarge's exhortations: ‘Come on girls, get the lead out’.’
      • ‘And if there are any bands out there drawing over one thousand kids a night, please give these guys a call - they're ready to get the lead out and rock yer body to the middle of the dance floor.’
      • ‘As a final thought, I'd like to encourage any aspiring columnists to get the lead out and submit something.’
      • ‘Your 5 minutes has already started, so you better get the lead out and start talking.’
      • ‘And if he ever gets the lead out and puts the thing online we'll be linking forthwith since it's sure to be a must-read.’
  • go down like a lead balloon

    • informal (of something spoken or written) be poorly received.

      ‘the idea would go down like a lead balloon’
      • ‘My last caption competition went down like a lead balloon, so I'm hesitant to offer a prize.’
      • ‘The last attempt at vouchers, for nursery education, went down like a lead balloon.’
      • ‘Then there's the proposal of an eighteen-month pay freeze, and that too has gone down like a lead balloon within union ranks.’
      • ‘The film is a cumbersome, wayward commercial endeavor that goes over like a lead balloon before plummeting into insignificance.’
      • ‘The clay sculpture, however, has gone down like a lead balloon with some worshippers who are to ask for it to be removed or covered up during services.’
      • ‘He said: ‘This is going to go down like a lead balloon and they will have a real battle on their hands.’’
      • ‘The administration has, in fact, stopped talking about the president's amnesty proposal because it went over like a lead balloon.’
      • ‘Predictably the news has gone down like a lead balloon, and not just among those who will be axed.’
      • ‘As you can imagine, that suggestion of mine went over like a lead balloon among my fellow journalists.’
      • ‘Here's hoping this guy's business goes over like a lead balloon.’
  • a lead foot

    • informal Used in reference to a person's habit of driving too fast.

      ‘I had a lead foot in my younger days, and had quite a few accidents’
  • lead in one's pencil

    • informal Vigour or energy, especially sexual energy in a man.

      ‘Hot Springs water will put lead in your pencil!’
      • ‘In other words - eat meat and it'll put lead in your pencil.’
      • ‘I gathered snake was one of those foods thought to put lead in the old pencil.’
      • ‘Who is responsible for the lack of lead in his pencil?’
      • ‘Indeed, there's no way of showing the lead in your pencil quite like a forced merger.’
      • ‘Yep those Oysters really put lead in your pencil.’
      • ‘Now we really will see if Gordon has any lead in his pencil.’
      • ‘That was just so I wouldn't be hit on by every Tom, Dick and Harry with an accounting degree and lead in his pencil.’
      • ‘I think the English equivalent is - ‘it puts lead in your pencil’.’
      • ‘A third term with a decent majority is really going to put lead in his pencil.’
      • ‘The old dog's still got some lead in his pencil.’


Old English lēad, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch lood ‘lead’ and German Lot ‘plummet, solder’.