One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1‘he played the leading role in his team's narrow victory’
main, chief, major, prime, most significant, principal, foremost, key, supreme, paramount, dominant, superior, ruling, directing, guiding, controlling, essential, cardinal, central, focal
momentous, noteworthy, notable
2‘the leading industrially developed countries’
most powerful, most important, foremost, greatest, chief, outstanding, pre-eminent, richest, principal, dominant, most influential, most illustrious, paramount, top-tier, top-rank, of the first rank, first-rate
minor, secondary, second-rate
3‘last season's leading scorer’
top, highest, best, first
superlative, unsurpassed, unexcelled, front, in first place, lead, unparalleled, matchless, peerless, incomparable, star, arch-
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