Definition of leak in English:



  • 1(of a container or covering) accidentally lose or admit contents, especially liquid or gas, through a hole or crack.

    ‘the roof leaked’
    ‘a leaking gutter’
    [with object] ‘the drums were leaking an unidentified liquid’
    • ‘She passed cracks leaking steam that fogged her way.’
    • ‘I crawled back in bed, realizing that the roof was still leaking at an increasing rate.’
    • ‘The vessel was leaking, its engine failing and there was a large crack in the hull.’
    • ‘I got to work this morning and found that my lunch box had leaked into my bag, and there was pesto sauce from my pasta salad coating the inside of the bag.’
    • ‘Salvage and rescue workers who were rushed to the scene said one of the sunken acid containers was slowly leaking into the river.’
    • ‘The petrol tank was leaking, and rags were soaked in the petrol on the ground and a lighted match applied.’
    • ‘The roof is also leaking badly, window frames and guttering are rotting and the interior is in urgent need of redecoration.’
    • ‘The bite valve has no shut-off mechanism, so it's more apt to leak if accidentally squeezed.’
    • ‘Plumber number one tightened the fixing for the waste pipe - but two weeks later the bath was still leaking.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, most of the coolers leaked so badly that we had to replace them.’
    • ‘The upended containers leaked, but they held together.’
    • ‘One hundred people were evacuated from a village near York today after a storage tank leaked, releasing an explosive cloud of propane gas.’
    • ‘The roof leaks so badly that we have to put a bucket under it.’
    • ‘Short-term methods of storage are unsatisfactory because containers leak and break open long before the wastes are safe.’
    • ‘This leading cause of blindness in the elderly occurs when excess blood vessels start leaking into the eye.’
    • ‘If your container leaks onto the table too much when you water it, remove the umbrella and move the container to the patio floor.’
    • ‘Schoolchildren learn this truth in their science classes: All containers leak.’
    • ‘The fountain's stonework is crumbling, the bowl leaks and at the beginning of the winter the town council decommissioned it due to concerns over the effects of water damage and leakage.’
    • ‘Nearly 20 per cent of the water pipes in the city leak and the 900,000 old toilets used in the city are estimated to waste millions of tons of water in a year.’
    • ‘‘I keep these in my shed, so if the roof leaks on that, I'm screwed,’ he quips, before dissolving into kinks of laughter.’
    escape, exude, discharge, emanate, issue, drip, dribble, drain, bleed
    discharge, exude, emit, eject, release, drip, dribble, pour out, send forth, ooze, excrete, secrete
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    1. 1.1[with adverbial of direction](of liquid, gas, etc.) be accidentally lost or admitted through a hole or crack in a container or covering.
      ‘water kept leaking in’
      • ‘I could feel my blood pumping comfortably in my arteries and wondered why it didn't just leak out into nothingness.’
      • ‘This is from where, on the night of December 3, 1984, tons of poisonous gas leaked.’
      • ‘He later learned that exhaust gases were leaking into the cabin of his car.’
      • ‘Light seemed to just leak out from his pores when he smiled.’
      • ‘Pain shot up his arm as he felt something warm leak between his clenched fingers.’
      • ‘They also saw water leaking down from cracks in the rock and abundant crystal.’
      • ‘If oil had leaked into the ballast water, that would have been detected at Singapore / Malaysia.’
      • ‘The people who are left out in this system are like canaries that miners took with them; if poisonous gas were leaking into the mine, the canaries would sicken.’
      • ‘The gas leaked into the house through a manhole sewer system.’
      • ‘Look for dirty spots in your insulation, which often indicate holes where air leaks into and out of your house.’
      • ‘Had the gas leaked without igniting, the chances of a spark igniting all the gas at once would have been greater.’
      • ‘Gas could leak from the unsealed core, while working in water could also result in leakage.’
      • ‘The epidemic of drowsiness was blamed on gases leaking from toxic waste dumped at the site.’
      • ‘Seven astronauts perished when hot exhaust gas leaked from one of the booster rockets, destroying the vehicle less than two minutes into the flight.’
      • ‘Holding her hand, he could feel sweat leak from his pores.’
      • ‘There was a serious danger to them because gas was leaking.’
      • ‘The explosion was the result of chlorine gas leaking from outmoded furnaces at the plant.’
      • ‘A young man and teenage girl have died after poisonous fumes leaked from a gas boiler.’
      • ‘He warned that the fetid water could spread disease and that natural gas was leaking all over town.’
      • ‘Now, the frigid water was leaking through that hole and causing not a little irritation.’
  • 2(of secret information) become known.

    ‘worrying stories leaked out’
    • ‘This was not common knowledge until around a year ago, when the information leaked out about this wondrous book.’
    • ‘When news leaked out of a gathering last week, Downing Street said it should have ‘remained private’.’
    • ‘However, the painting was suddenly deemed to be of crucial national interest when the news leaked out that the Botticelli was to be sold to a Texan art gallery.’
    • ‘In February it emerged the pair had been in talks to combine their businesses but the discussions failed after the news leaked out too early.’
    • ‘The results are being kept secret until tonight - although some details have leaked out.’
    • ‘She and the four county commissioners intended to withhold the opinion until March 10, but, by March 2, the news had leaked out.’
    • ‘The news leaked out to an unsuspecting public, and team, in the first week of May, a week into the season.’
    • ‘There's been some information leaked out on the Internet about what will and won't be in the new magazine.’
    • ‘The news leaked out to save it from the scrap heap in the early 1930s.’
    • ‘From time to time, bits of scraggy information leaked out, courtesy of a spectacular defection or from a John le Carré spy novel.’
    • ‘In early 1998, news leaked out that a new Presidential Decision Directive had been issued.’
    • ‘The staff took various times to recover but everybody showed up for work a month after the message and no information leaked out.’
    • ‘The council meeting was inconclusive and, instead of going away, the matter festered and more information leaked out.’
    • ‘The estate agents cracked open champagne - then warned staff they faced dismissal if the buyer's details leaked out.’
    • ‘He offered no explanation for how the news had leaked out.’
    • ‘After all, he adds, he wasn't convinced anything significant was happening till enough information leaked out.’
    • ‘Few details leaked out about the event but the actress's son was seen wearing a dark pinstripe suit, white shirt and tie.’
    • ‘The German Defence Ministry was extremely agitated that this information had leaked out and used the argument of military security to cover up for its secrecy in the matter.’
    • ‘It need hardly be said that the residents of the northwest were far from impressed when the news of the scheme leaked out.’
    • ‘It took nine months before enough information leaked out that council brought in a former judge to investigate the bidding.’
    become known, become apparent, be revealed, be disclosed, come to light, emerge, come out, get out, be discovered, be uncovered, materialize, leak out, turn out, be made public
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    1. 2.1[with object]Intentionally disclose (secret information)
      ‘a report was leaked to the press’
      ‘a leaked government document’
      • ‘So, should the media have the right to ignore a news embargo and break a story early if the information is leaked from another source?’
      • ‘Well, it wouldn't be the first time that White House staffers have leaked information to the Press Corp.’
      • ‘I find that there is no evidence that Ottawa leaked the information to the press.’
      • ‘You keep talking about the State leaking information.’
      • ‘He said it was his hope ‘that we will witness a grand jury investigation with reporters present being asked to reveal who is leaking this information’.’
      • ‘Also, why, and on whose authority, did unnamed police sources leak information to the press?’
      • ‘The next three days were dominated by stories about the merits of the broadcast and who leaked information about the girl's family and not, as Labour had hoped, on general health issues.’
      • ‘But this generally doesn't apply to third parties to whom the journalist leaks the information, since they aren't bound by the contract.’
      • ‘A lot of people are leaking information that they say is in that report.’
      • ‘The president believes leaking classified information is a very serious matter and it should be pursued to the fullest extent by the appropriate agency.’
      • ‘What would be the position if the MP then leaks the information to a journalist, and it is published in a newspaper?’
      • ‘In the meantime, the president, of course, is focusing on who actually leaked news of this top secret spying program.’
      • ‘Information was leaked to the press at the time of the shooting, indicating that the Brazilian had behaved in such a way as to encourage the police in their belief that he was a terrorist.’
      • ‘What would be the motivation for leaking this information?’
      • ‘This news is leaked to the press, who feed off it voraciously, hampering the investigation.’
      • ‘Ministers were no less adept, leaking information to the press and timing official announcements to maximum advantage.’
      • ‘The news organizations fear the tougher law would result in subpoenas being issued to journalists who published leaked information.’
      • ‘The leaked document from the team confirms that consideration of recovery habitat protection was ‘therefore not addressed.’’
      • ‘Any civil servant who is proven to have leaked the information should face prosecution for disclosing confidential information.’
      • ‘But now she is being accused of probably leaking board information through a third party by the respected journalist who published the leak.’
      disclose, divulge, reveal, make known, make public, tell, impart, pass on, relate, communicate, expose, broadcast, publish, release, unveil, give away, betray, admit, confess, let slip, blurt out, bring into the open, bring to light
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  • 1A hole in a container or covering through which contents may accidentally pass.

    ‘I checked all of the pipework for leaks’
    • ‘As of Wednesday afternoon, the technicians had yet to repair the leak because the pipe was buried 1.5 meters underground.’
    • ‘If there are any leaks, fill the hole or crack with plastic solvent cement and wrap it with plastic electrical tape.’
    • ‘Restore water pressure and check the drain connection and the supply pipes for any leaks.’
    • ‘When the old surface was taken up it disturbed gas pipes and we had leaks which have been repaired.’
    • ‘When he went into the basement, he saw a leak in the copper pipe that ran between the fuel tank and the furnace.’
    • ‘Students also reported holes and leaks in the ceiling, as well as bad drainage that led to flooding.’
    • ‘Vehicles passing over the leaks then cause the damaged surface to break up, creating loose stones which could fly off, causing damage or injury they said.’
    • ‘Copper is relatively soft, and long-term exposure to sharp pieces of limestone may cut through the pipe and lead to leaks.’
    • ‘As the students repair leaks from damaged bulkheads the hull can be progressively flooded with water and rolled through 20 degrees, just like a ship at sea.’
    • ‘The pool had a permanent leak and had to be refilled about twice a week.’
    • ‘If you have quick-set epoxy or muffler cement, patch the leaks after allowing the damaged section to dry thoroughly.’
    • ‘Potentially harmful leaks from waste pipes can also be located, enabling repairs to be carried out quickly.’
    • ‘Fire brigade officers say the leak occurred in a pipe on the first floor.’
    • ‘This stuff is useful for filling in holes and leaks, and for burning skin upon contact, in either its resin or powder form.’
    • ‘Inspect for leaks and damaged or broken parts before starting the day's work.’
    • ‘If further water infiltration is to be prevented, all leaking pipes and roof leaks should be repaired.’
    • ‘The new detector can also be used to locate leaks from mains pipes in streets and in industrial complexes which may have many miles of piping.’
    • ‘A leak was discovered and the original 2ft hole for the tap had to be extended to carry out repairs.’
    • ‘In such times, we cling desperately to the life raft of the First Amendment, yet we must also remain aware of its leaks and holes.’
    hole, opening, puncture, perforation, prick, cut, gash, slit, nick, rent, break, rift, crack, crevice, chink, fissure, rupture, aperture
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    1. 1.1An instance of leaking.
      ‘a gas leak’
      [mass noun] ‘the leak of fluid may occur’
      • ‘Yes, yes, its function is plain: it seals the hole, preventing leaks.’
      • ‘Water companies have made big strides in reducing leaks from their pipes, a historic aggravating feature in dry periods.’
      • ‘While diesel is less flammable than gasoline, any fuel leak creates serious safety and environmental risks in a marine setting.’
      • ‘I notice that a number of our trials at Hauxton have been rendered useless and part of our field apparently contaminated following what appears to have been a leak from a burst pipe.’
      • ‘It was two to three hours before the leak was contained, the cloud had dissipated, and the crisis was over.’
      • ‘Either way, the trick was to contain the leak and wait until the plumber could arrive the next morning.’
      • ‘The objector also fears that accidental leaks from hazardous materials on the site could be detrimental to health.’
      • ‘There was evidence of past leaks, and some pipework had been replaced in the plant room area.’
      • ‘Two pipelines at a petrochemical storage depot nearby reportedly have ruptured, but no leaks were detected.’
      • ‘Caulk and patch the cracks to prevent leaks and the damage that could result from them.’
      • ‘The 150-metre ship had been waiting about five miles off the Aberdeen coast for chemicals experts to arrive and contain the leak.’
      • ‘The construction of a new pipe for pumping treated sewage into the sea is under review after years of costly leaks and accidents.’
      • ‘Oil from its tanks is still seeping out and threatening local wildlife, despite elaborate efforts by the Ministry of Defence to contain the leaks.’
      • ‘The students first asked for monetary compensation of the month's rent after a leak from the washing machine buckled the floorboards, making them feel unsafe about living in the flat.’
      • ‘A fuel leak which damaged a South Lakeland beck and endangered water supplies to 250,000 homes in Greater Manchester has cost a plant hire company almost 9,000.’
      • ‘The plant was not designed to contain a radiation leak, despite handling highly enriched fuel.’
      • ‘If it is found that the hole is nothing to do with the leak then we will pass on the cost to the council.’
      • ‘The leak of wastewater containing diesel fuel and motor oil was discovered Friday at the fueling station about 25 miles northeast of Spokane.’
      • ‘Scottish Water is also to launch a campaign next month urging people to take care of the plumbing in their homes amid fears a freeze will result in widespread leaks from burst pipes.’
      • ‘The strike came after a recent accident involving an acid leak, which affected 40 workers.’
      discharge, leakage, leaking, oozing, seeping, seepage, drip, percolation
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  • 2An intentional disclosure of secret information.

    ‘one of the employees was responsible for the leak’
    • ‘Health officials were in part to blame for information leaks - this being a small society and all.’
    • ‘The leak of secret or classified information is also troubling the Government.’
    • ‘Justice gets about 50 such complaints from the CIA each year about leaks of classified information and few ever get beyond a preliminary investigation.’
    • ‘Tonight, the Justice Department launches a sweeping investigation into the leak of a top secret domestic spying program.’
    • ‘He urged anyone with information about the alleged leak to contact with Justice Department.’
    • ‘Any leak of critical information could hamper the investigation and diminish the element of surprise they want to achieve when pinning down a suspect, he added.’
    • ‘To many observers, this seems an oxymoronic concept in a city notorious for information leaks.’
    • ‘And still, according to the absolutely intentional leaks, there doesn't seem to be a good answer.’
    • ‘Unlike a typical whistleblower case, this was not a leak of information useful to the public; it was a deliberate plant for political purposes.’
    • ‘The leaks provided little information but provoked a great deal of talk.’
    • ‘Already, however, leaks from the secret pre-conclave meetings have been appearing in the media.’
    • ‘He said questions about possible leaks of confidential information connected to the sale have cast a shadow on the deal.’
    • ‘The subsequent leak of that information to the media is a breathtaking abuse of power by the authorities.’
    • ‘Even before this happened, you needed one of the secret decoder rings to get any sort of leaks or information out of this White House.’
    • ‘You make the point that if that were a leak of confidential information by an officer on borough, in any other circumstances that would be the subject of a formal disciplinary investigation.’
    • ‘You're always going to be pursued by your data shadow, which is forming from thousands and thousands of little leaks and tributaries of information.’
    • ‘The second thing to do is to see if you can make anonymous or obscure personal information so that a leak will be less damaging.’
    • ‘There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington.’
    • ‘Even big corporations attach great importance to security measures to prevent leaks of commercial secrets.’
    • ‘Commanders worry over leaks of information that might compromise an operation.’
    disclosure, revelation, divulgence, uncovering, admission, confession, exposé
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  • have (or take) a leak

    • informal Urinate.

      • ‘A guy is standing taking a leak over the water onto the dead body.’
      • ‘I'm pretty sure that taking a leak in the street is an arrestable offence if you're not a dog or a toddler.’
      • ‘They grin at me in the morning when I'm taking a leak, but they say very little.’
      • ‘Of course, what really happened was slightly less horrible; someone took a leak outside the cells, and the gentle Caribbean breeze carried a jot of pee through a ventilation grill.’
      • ‘Or maybe it was as simple as the grateful look he gave me as he took a leak on the sidewalk.’
      • ‘He immediately jumped right in the new box and took a leak.’
      • ‘I was about to say something pious about wayside shrines and the spiritual consolation of passers-by, when he said, ‘It's to stop people from taking a leak there.’’
      • ‘You could see a guy standing at the urinal taking a leak.’
      • ‘Even ‘comfort breaks’ - service industry-speak for taking a leak - have to be logged into the system, using a special code.’
      • ‘Tom drives a lot for work, and one day on the open road, finding himself in need of a pee, did what all men do, parked up on a convenient verge and took a leak into the hedgerow.’


Late Middle English: probably of Low German or Dutch origin and related to lack.