Main meanings of lead in English

: lead1lead2


Pronunciation /liːd/

See synonyms for lead

Translate lead into Spanish

verbpast participle verb led/lɛd/

[with object]
  • 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’
    • ‘She pulled the horse to a halt, and led him by the rope.’
    • ‘He led her with a rope tied around her hands.’
    • ‘You can also attach a lead rope to him and lead him around with you as you clean.’
    • ‘The blonde girl stepped forward leading a sickly boy of about two.’
    • ‘He emerged leading a woman in white silk.’
    • ‘She leads her husband by the hand like a child.’
    • ‘The multimillionaire, clad in a red prison garb, was led in handcuffs through a throng of TV cameras.’
    • ‘The Herald carried on its front page one of the suspects being led in handcuffs by detectives from his home.’
    • ‘It is often said that you can't push a bull, you can only lead it from the front.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He took her by the hand and led her quickly forward, forcing her to jog to keep up with his long strides.’
    • ‘He dismounted and told Alana to slide back into the saddle, he would lead Charger along the trails on foot.’
    • ‘After a brief sentencing hearing, Ms. Wilson is led off to begin to serve her time.’
    • ‘More tears sprang to her eyes, but she headed towards the door to be led off by the guards.’
    guide, conduct, show, show someone the way, lead the way, usher, escort, steer, pilot, marshal, shepherd
    View synonyms
    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 them to the front gate and used the keycard to open the door.’
      • ‘Brady walked in front of them and led them towards the cabin.’
      • ‘She led them to the front desk, where an old man with graying hair sat reading an old newspaper.’
      • ‘He led them inside with his typical fearlessness.’
      • ‘The flight attendant led them to the first class seats.’
      • ‘Dad had stood up smiling and led the way back to the front door.’
      • ‘Raymond leads them to his friend's bungalow at the end of the shore.’
      • ‘A shepherd leads his flock of 50 from the Tuscan hills back to the farm.’
      • ‘After the service, a police escort led the funeral parade to the cemetery in Cricklade Road.’
      • ‘She took his halter and began leading him along the edge of the cliffs.’
      • ‘She put a blue nylon halter on him and led him to the barn, making soothing noises.’
      • ‘I grinned as two guards stepped forward and began leading me out of the room.’
      • ‘He ploughed on, leading his stallion down the path and into the woods.’
      • ‘He leads you on further through more passages and rooms until finally you arrive at your table.’
      • ‘They lead the caravan through the pass, towards the steep descent that marked its exit.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He led his sisters through the forest.’
      • ‘Brooke led her sister through the house and down the stairs.’
      • ‘Soon enough, Cate took charge and led the others up the tunnel, the torch held ahead of her.’
      • ‘He led two injured colleagues down a stairwell and then returned to help take another out on a stretcher.’
      be at the head of, be at the front of, head, spearhead
      View synonyms
  • 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’
    • ‘Two sets of double doors lead to a spacious conservatory from where double doors lead out to the lawned back garden.’
    • ‘‘The routes leading into Leeds from this part of the city are already seriously overcrowded,’ he added.’
    • ‘A gate has been padlocked on an access road leading down to one beach to prevent vehicles getting too close.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He said it was near impossible to walk the riverbank route because it led down to a dead end.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This route led away from the lake through bracken and heather, over a ridge between two hills.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 old stairs led down into a small, single square room with an empty slate floor.’
    • ‘A flight of stairs led down into the darkness.’
    • ‘The back door led straight into the kitchen.’
    • ‘One evening I attempted to open the sliding glass door leading onto my balcony.’
    • ‘There was a large spiral staircase leading into the hallway in the front.’
    • ‘The house had a long sprawling drive which led to the car park, it was a very posh place indeed.’
    • ‘The marina has an adjacent pavilion at the top of a hill, with a staircase leading up to it.’
    • ‘The boatman beaches us on a spit of land leading up to a stone house surrounded by willows.’
    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’
      • ‘a fascination for art led him to start a collection of paintings’
      • ‘In the rest of this article, we discuss the ideas and reasoning that led us to our final decision.’
      • ‘Omar's reflections on his wife's motives lead him to contemplate his own life.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘However, instead of a steady march of discovery and triumph, reason has led us to believe there are limits to achievement.’
      • ‘This chapter reviews the reasons which led Britain to seek entry, and the factors that have created tension with other member states.’
      • ‘We are often led to believe that organic vegetables, free-range meat and handmade cheeses are luxury products.’
      • ‘This has led the government to try to limit wage increases to below that level.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Natural selection leads us to expect animals to behave in ways that increase their own chances of survival and reproduction, not those of others.’
      • ‘Now she lives alone in an apartment with her four cats, a solitude that has led her to consider moving to a monastery.’
      • ‘Although there is no evidence that the path has led residents to drive less, it did have a profound effect on their lives.’
      • ‘This same false confidence led him to drive recklessly.’
      • ‘Neighborhood disorder leads honest people to move out of the neighborhood or to lock themselves in their homes.’
      • ‘His success led other parties to pledge to re-examine the country's generous refugee policy.’
      • ‘We have been led to believe this technology is completely foolproof and it is not at all.’
      • ‘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 user is led to believe their card isn't working and the card is then kept by the device.’
      • ‘It was a spell in the Cuban military that led him to choose a career in music.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 2.2no object Culminate or result in (a particular event or consequence)
      ‘closing the plant will lead to 300 job losses’
      • ‘Exciting results from early small trials led on to several large studies of low dose aspirin.’
      • ‘The events of that day have led on to a war.’
      • ‘Anyway, this then led on to a discussion of the hymns - well, songs, really - which we had to sing in primary assembly.’
      • ‘That led on to winning the FA Cup that year, and the European Cup Winners Cup in 1991.’
      • ‘Early radio drama led on to television parts and minor roles in movies.’
      • ‘The earliest instruments were made of a tube of wood, which led on to the Post Horn.’
      • ‘In some cases, they led on to research which was closer to ‘participant observation’.’
      • ‘It would probably have led on to granting Catholics exemption from tithes and the authority of Anglican courts.’
      • ‘This led on to a discussion about the war.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I agree with the opinion about how it can led on to harder drugs for certain people, but this is not everyone.’
      • ‘Unexpectedly a comment I made in passing led on to a fascinating discussion.’
      • ‘The second led on to an examination of the contribution that recent brain research might make.’
      • ‘His early fondness for working with horses led on to his interest in showjumping.’
      • ‘This led on to a Saturday job for which I got paid peanuts for washing hair, making teas and coffees and sweeping up.’
      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
      View synonyms
  • 3Be in charge or command of.

    ‘a military delegation was led by the Chief of Staff’
    • ‘Relieved of command, he led IX Corps for much of the rest of the war.’
    • ‘Firm in our resolve, focused on our mission, and led by a superb commander in chief, we will prevail.’
    • ‘He led an official Chinese delegation, which visited the northern Black Sea resorts over the weekend.’
    • ‘He is leading the official U.S. delegation to the areas battered by the tsunami.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This meant that they had to take on Fighter Command, led by Sir Hugh Dowding, of the Royal Air Force.’
    • ‘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 Viking army, led by Harald Hardrada of Norway, charged into battle and trapped the English in a pincer movement.’
    • ‘The military, led by General Fidel Ramoz, refused its continued support.’
    • ‘Each team will be led by a working supervisor and based at the nearest available council depot.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He proposed that a delegation of farm employees, led by himself, should go north to meet Lord Erne.’
    • ‘He appointed his most loyal friend to lead the army.’
    • ‘At present, the school is being led by a unique management team.’
    • ‘Millions of Italian voters will go to the ballot boxes today and tomorrow to decide who leads the next Italian government.’
    • ‘Why did King Philip select a man who had never been to sea before to lead the world's then largest naval fleet?’
    be the leader of, be the head of, preside over, hold sway over, head
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    1. 3.1Organize and direct.
      ‘the conference included sessions led by people with personal knowledge of the area’
      • ‘The session was organised and led by the Community Librarian for Warminster.’
      • ‘On Saturday morning there was a meditation followed by a session on healing led by a psychotherapist.’
      • ‘She had led a £100m management buyout just one year previously.’
      • ‘Instructor Mark Sullivan will be leading the sessions and will also be offering advice on nutrition and training.’
      • ‘He had travelled to Greece on an excursion organised by Touchdown Tours, led by Surrey man Paul Coppin.’
      • ‘The meeting was led by the assistant to the National Police chief for intelligence affairs.’
      • ‘Four aviators were selected as the pilots to be trained in a program led by test pilot Scott Crossfield.’
      • ‘He leads a tour for Friends of the Royal Academy to Picasso museums and sites in Barcelona, Madrid and Malaga.’
      • ‘One of the passengers from the Turkey flight became so frustrated that she stood on the stairway near the carousel and led a rebellion.’
      • ‘No droning or monotonous lectures, the professor's job is to lead and move the discussion.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She leads singing groups for boys and girls, teaching them traditional songs.’
      • ‘A project leader was an experienced field biologist responsible for leading field activities.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They have received specialist training led by Stephen Attwood, a consultant surgeon at Hope.’
      • ‘The course will be led by an experienced tutor with training in French, English and Caribbean cookery.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The walk will be led by experienced guides who will give a talk on the history and folk lore of the areas.’
      • ‘The groups consisted of six to eight volunteer general practitioners, each led by an experienced group leader.’
      • ‘Laura usually does all the games, and Jason leads the Bible study.’
    2. 3.2Be 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.’
      • ‘Blues Breakdown, the regular house band, were amiably led by organiser Mike Ford on guitar and lead vocals.’
      • ‘The Bristol-based Emerald Orchestra is led by Roger Huckle with conductor Benjamin Nicholas.’
      be at the head of, be at the front of, head, spearhead
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    3. 3.3Set (a process) in motion.
      ‘they are waiting for an expansion of world trade to lead a recovery’
      • ‘Hungary, Poland and Slovenia may well lead an accelerating regional recovery process.’
      • ‘Even in Japan, the recent recovery was almost entirely led by exports.’
      • ‘The current phase of recovery has been led by consumption rather than by investments.’
      • ‘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. 3.4Baseball no object (of a base runner) be in a position to run from a base while standing off the base.
    5. 3.5(in card games) play (the first card) in a trick or round of play.
      ‘he led the ace and another heart’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In fact it is a normal tactic to lead lower spades to try to drive out the queen.’
      • ‘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’
    • ‘the Wantage jockey was leading the field’
    • ‘Stewart had the dominant car through most of the race, leading for 283 laps.’
    • ‘By lap 35 he was leading but the race was far from being over.’
    • ‘He led for the entire race and was only caught in the last couple of strides.’
    • ‘The visitors were leading 2-1 with the game entering the final minute when Toby Capstick snatched the equaliser.’
    • ‘He led throughout the race and qualified for the A-final with the fastest time.’
    • ‘Martin has led in 14 consecutive races dating to the final race of last season at Atlanta.’
    • ‘United led for most of the game, but were rarely on top.’
    • ‘She suffered the same fate in the 2001 world championships, leading until the final lap where she was overtaken by a trio of Ethiopians.’
    • ‘Latvia led from the start racing in the middle of the field with Spain in second.’
    • ‘After easily leading most of the event, the team lost five laps due to two cable failures and fell to fifth in class.’
    • ‘He was leading after five events, but botched his floor exercise in the final rotation.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Derry got off to a great start and they led at the end of the first quarter, 16-2.’
    • ‘In the 15-lap event, he was leading until stewards forced him into the pits after the rear bumper began peeling off his car.’
    • ‘It looked all over in the second game when the Tyrone girls forged ahead and led by 19-8.’
    • ‘Carleton has finished ahead the last two years and is leading by 10 this year as well.’
    • ‘The extra period remained close, and once again Avenue edged ahead, leading 78-76.’
    • ‘Skipper Dean Barker led pretty much all the way and was 180 metres ahead just before the final mark.’
    • ‘That means that they were leading by two holes with just one hole to play, therefore, that match was over.’
    • ‘She led at 250m, stretching ahead as the Lithuanian slipped away.’
    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’
      • ‘In pioneering a new sort of scholarly publication the National Trust could lead 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.’
      • ‘Swimming became a popular national exercise in which, for many decades, Britain led the world.’
      • ‘In the past, the company has frequently led the way leaving competitors to rush around behind it.’
      • ‘The country's operators have led the way in experimenting with the wireless music business.’
      • ‘The United States, because of its large research base, has led in initiating technology.’
      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’
    • ‘My aim is to lead a completely nonviolent life, in which I harm nothing.’
    • ‘Tyler would lead a completely different life from his parents.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Alice is in her first year of a B.A., has long curly hair, and has led an overly sheltered life.’
    • ‘I feel like I've been kept in the dark over this, either that or I've led a very sheltered life.’
    • ‘I've led a very sheltered existence and haven't got a clue what it's like in the real world.’
    • ‘What factors cause people to drop out of their present lives and lead a completely separate existence in another country?’
    • ‘She leads a rather sheltered life, working as a nurse and residing in a state run asylum.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Children with diabetes can lead normal, healthy lives if their diabetes is managed properly.’
    • ‘Others went on to lead normal, peaceable lives.’
    • ‘The three friends are rich and leading a life of luxury after having won all that reward money in the previous film.’
    • ‘He had many friends and led an active life right up to the very end.’
    • ‘We welcome anyone to Bolton if their intention is to lead a responsible law-abiding life.’
    • ‘I thought how lucky we are to be able to take command of our lives by leading a healthy and active lifestyle.’
    • ‘She is receiving regular treatment and leading an extremely active and healthy life.’
    • ‘Charles will be taking his GCSEs at Bingley Grammar School this year and is managing to lead a relatively normal life.’
    • ‘He made a good recovery but had to lead a quieter life.’
    • ‘They obviously have been leading very private, very separate lives for many years now.’
    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’
    • ‘Well done to Wandsworth Council for taking the lead in this initiative.’
    • ‘I am going to follow the lead of a number of other bloggers and take a break now (another one, I know).’
    • ‘He said there was no intention to follow the lead of some other professional firms by quitting Bradford in favour of Leeds.’
    • ‘Let us follow the lead of pesticide-free cities and make a safe and beautiful home for us all to live in.’
    • ‘The school will also follow the lead of 30 other schools in the borough and operate a daily breakfast bar.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Here is a case where the military can afford to follow the lead of industry in many areas and adapt what is available.’
    • ‘Rich countries should follow the lead of poor countries and adopt a more systematic way of controlling the cost of drugs’
    • ‘But why should the UK follow the lead of these progressive European countries and US states?’
    • ‘There is always the temptation to follow the lead of your friends, neighbors, or idols.’
    • ‘Each Area conducted their own ballot, and it was expected that the others would follow the lead set by the Yorkshire Area.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Sasha impressed the judges by taking the lead and looking after some of the younger children attending the event.’
    • ‘I am calling on every member of this party to follow the lead I have given.’
    • ‘They are nowhere to be seen in precisely the very forum where they should be taking the lead.’
    • ‘Thank you for taking the lead and showing us that one person can make a difference.’
    • ‘They have been praised for taking up the issue and it is hoped other schools will follow their lead.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The United Nations is responsible for enforcing its resolutions and should take the lead.’
    first position, head place, forefront, primacy, dominance, superiority, precedence, ascendancy
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    1. 1.1A 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’
      • ‘She said there have been no leads or clues to their whereabouts.’
      • ‘Detectives searching for a missing Hull woman are following new leads which suggest she may have headed off to see her boyfriend after all.’
      • ‘We are following up on certain leads and hope this information will lead us to a breakthrough.’
      • ‘They can bring in other officers when they need to and they have been chasing all kinds of leads.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But detectives said most of these leads had been followed up without any sign of a breakthrough in the case.’
      • ‘Any leads or information would be greatly appreciated and can be reported to campus police at ext.4911.’
      • ‘Many new leads and interesting facts have been discovered about the past through this new medium.’
      • ‘A congressional report into the attacks published a year ago found evidence that leads were overlooked.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They can coordinate actions, track down leads, and research other law enforcement tools.’
      • ‘Harry and the Contessa are called away to Venice, where an old friend has a new lead on an insurance scam.’
      • ‘Crimestoppers rewards of up to £5,000 are being offered to anyone who supplies a new lead.’
      • ‘Following a vague lead on a job, Raphael finds himself in a basement sitting across from a man in a wheelchair.’
      • ‘In fact it was Don who gave Bob the lead on a rental house in early September.’
      • ‘At the time of Gene's call, I had already been preparing to check out a lead on an ivory-bill sighting in Louisiana.’
      • ‘Our possible lead on a new home turned out to be a dead-end.’
      clue, pointer, guide, hint, tip, tip-off, suggestion, indication, indicator, sign, signal, intimation, inkling
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    2. 1.2A person or thing 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.’
      • ‘The remaining $6 million in sales were brought in by resellers using leads generated from visitors to the site.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘These groups share prospective leads between people in different businesses.’
      • ‘There was consistent traffic, and we generated a significant number of good leads with many different types of buyers, big and small.’
      • ‘But believe it or not, many of those dropped leads can be turned into profitable business with a little extra sales effort.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘What marketing activities (for example, how many calls) are needed to generate a solid lead?’
      • ‘He tells rookie brokers that community work should be something "they sincerely believe in" and not pursued with the intention to find leads.’
      • ‘Through the end of the third quarter, there were 252 leads generated.’
    3. 1.3(in card games) an act or right of playing first in a trick or round of play.
      ‘it's your lead’
      • ‘If it was not the last trick, the lead for the next trick passes to the left.’
      • ‘The queen may take a trick with more points later or win the lead at a crucial moment.’
      • ‘The player on the dealer's right has the first lead, and the winner of the trick leads to the next trick.’
      • ‘Pull as much trump as you can without giving away the lead before you go off into another suit.’
      • ‘Thereafter, the lead alternates between the two players, irrespective of who wins the tricks.’
    4. 1.4The card played first in a trick or round.
      ‘the ♦8 was an inspired lead’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If the lead is a trump card all the other players must play trump as well unless they don't have any.’
      • ‘Most often no one will be able to beat the lead and the led cards will win the trick.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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’
    • ‘He missed a series of chances, before and after United took the lead.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I took the lead on lap 41 when I passed him on the inside at the hairpin, and went on to win.’
    • ‘We took the lead through a penalty and the lad who gave the penalty away was lucky not to have been sent off.’
    • ‘We've gone in third and come out in the lead several times lately, and that is a real morale booster for the team.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The Milan fans were really quiet until they took the lead, then it was as if someone just turned the volume up.’
    • ‘After a goalless first half the home side took the lead just after the break.’
    • ‘They should have won but became more cautious after they took the lead instead of going all out for a second goal.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘However, we made crucial errors, including one with four minutes to go when we were still in the lead!’
    • ‘They only had to wait five minutes to regain the lead with a try of real quality.’
    • ‘He was, however, mildly critical of them for dropping back and not seizing the initiative after taking the lead.’
    • ‘In a poor first half, the visitors did just enough to merit taking the lead.’
    • ‘However, the game was turned on its head in the space of two minutes with Villa taking the lead.’
    • ‘In fact they held the lead until midway through the second half when the festivities took their toll.’
    • ‘He is tough to catch when he has the lead in the final round.’
    • ‘The second half was a thrill a minute, with the lead being exchanged frequently.’
    leading position, leading place, first place, advance position, van, vanguard
    leading, first, top, foremost, front, head
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1An amount by which a competitor is ahead of the others.
      ‘the team held a slender one-goal lead’
      • ‘They now have a four point lead over the Lancashire club and are eight points ahead of Oakworth.’
      • ‘Going into the final day, Real Madrid had a one-point lead over bitter rivals Barcelona, who had not topped the table all season.’
      • ‘Ann held a two shot lead over her nearest competitor, Kay Fanning, after the final eighteen holes.’
      • ‘With three league games left to play, one more than Liverpool, Everton hold a three-point lead over their neighbours.’
      • ‘By the time they reached the turn Woods had reduced the deficit and taken a one-shot lead over Leonard.’
      • ‘Wolves have come from behind to win six of their last seven games and build a five-point lead over City.’
      • ‘Chelsea held a 12-point lead over their nearest rivals, and continually found ways to win.’
      • ‘I was confident, knowing that with a minute lead over Jan, with the rain and the wind, I had no reason to take risks.’
      • ‘In the 2004 Asia Cup final, India enjoyed a one-goal lead against Japan at the same venue.’
      • ‘Barry Eaton added the conversion to give the home side a six-point lead after 20 minutes.’
      • ‘But alas, my prediction was awry and Scunthorpe now bear a seemingly unassailable seven-point lead going into Christmas.’
      • ‘The away side hit the woodwork in the opening minutes before Shipley opened a two-goal half-time lead.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The British athlete ran a personal best to win the 400m and gain a one point lead over his rivals.’
      • ‘Cork gave their followers some heart-stopping moments after surrendering an eight-point lead in the second half.’
      • ‘But the party still maintains a healthy eight-point lead over the Conservatives on 31%.’
      • ‘A Robinson penalty just before half-time gave Hill a one-point lead at the break.’
      • ‘The Scot enters the final round with a three-shot lead as the European season climaxes today’
      • ‘Australia hit back strongly, and a third Flatley penalty restored a four-point lead.’
      winning margin, margin, gap, interval
      View synonyms
  • 3The chief part in a play or film.

    ‘she had the lead in a new film’
    • ‘the lead role’
    • ‘Considering this is her first lead role in a feature film, she is very impressive.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In the 1950s, the actor Montgomery Clift turned down the lead parts in four films.’
    • ‘He is one of the most daring characters to appear as the lead in a major film in years.’
    • ‘The script was gritty and the role of the lead character interested Kirk Douglas greatly.’
    • ‘Most of all, she was fortunate in finding the right young actress for the lead role.’
    • ‘In fact, she's desperate to get maximum exposure and sets her sights on the lead role in the school play.’
    • ‘As an aspiring filmmaker and screenwriter, I would definitely use you in a lead role.’
    • ‘So here she gets a big studio to give her a lead role where she plays a strong, self-reliant woman.’
    • ‘I'd like to play the lead in a feature film.’
    • ‘She then goes for her first audition against opposition from 190 other girls and wins a lead in a Bollywood film.’
    • ‘So who do you think will take the lead role when Hollywood snaps up the movie rights?’
    • ‘He has put off a gap-year trip to New Zealand to play one of the five lead roles in the drama.’
    • ‘He saw her on TV and gave her the lead in his 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.’
    • ‘The show changes casts frequently, with a new female celebrity taking the lead in every new city.’
    • ‘Another choice the director made was to cast non-professional actors in the leads.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It has two fine actors in the leads, and some decent actors supporting.’
    leading role, star role, starring role, star part, title role, principal part
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1The person playing the chief part.
      ‘he still looked like a romantic lead’
      • ‘Luckily, the chemistry between the romantic leads feels real.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Apart from the two male leads who were professional actors, non-professionals played all the other roles.’
      • ‘I'm not sure either of the leads is a good actor.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The romantic leads ended up falling in love during the course the production and the rest, as they say, is history.’
      • ‘The romantic leads have excellent voices, naturally, but also a presence that holds your attention.’
      • ‘One of the leads and her understudy were hurt when their trailer flipped.’
      • ‘As I have said dozens of times, romantic movies are made or broken by how well the leads interact with each other.’
      • ‘A few problems have kept him from succeeding: the script is banal and his two leads aren't great actors.’
      • ‘He heaps too much responsibility on his actors and thus strains the abilities of his two leads.’
      • ‘There's comedic and romantic potential in the concept of beautiful leads playing divorce lawyers who accidentally get married.’
      • ‘It was all really quite endearing, and held up by the fact its leads could act and the script wasn't rubbish.’
      • ‘When you stop to think about it, this film is nothing without a strong lead in Stu's role.’
      • ‘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 female lead in the film was originally a medical student who became interested in acting.’
      • ‘He is not a strong enough actor to be the lead in a film, and that adds to the failure of the movie.’
      • ‘The 80-film-old Hollywood producer is scouting for a female lead for his new film.’
      • ‘The two leads are playing roles they aren't suited for.’
      • ‘The three leads approach their roles with gusto, but it's simply not enough to overcome a weak and wandering screenplay.’
    2. 3.2usually as modifier The chief performer or instrument of a specified type.
      ‘a lead guitarist’
      • ‘Contemporary music is played by an orchestra that mainly uses European instruments with a lead singer and chorus.’
      • ‘These three make up the band's trio of lead vocalists and songwriters.’
      • ‘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 a young musician he became the lead singer in a rock band.’
      • ‘He is widely known as the composer of concertos, a form of music with a small orchestra and solo lead instrument.’
      • ‘The group repeats a chorus or claps while a lead singer or drummer sets the pace.’
      • ‘Steve plays all the other instruments and provides lead vocals too.’
      • ‘He wanted his lead performers to have a great vocal presence.’
      • ‘Each track is very well constructed, with the percussion and synthetic sounds serving as lead instruments.’
      • ‘The following week she flew to Las Vegas to begin rehearsals for her first eight-week stint as the lead soloist.’
      • ‘The key to this production is the two lead performers.’
      • ‘As I said before, the drums and bass were often the lead instruments of the band.’
      • ‘All I have to do when writing a vocal track is bear in mind that the lead instrument will be the voice.’
      • ‘Eric was the lead singer and the main focal point of the band.’
      • ‘When bands break up, everyone from the lead singer to the rhythm guitarist releases a solo album.’
      • ‘The performance as a whole and the lead dancers were very warmly received.’
      • ‘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. 3.3The item of news given the greatest prominence in a newspaper, broadcast, etc.
      ‘the ‘pensions revolution’ is the lead in the Times’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Both local newspapers published lead editorials calling for the privatization of the system.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There's no subtle coincidence at work in the two lead stories in Time magazine this week.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Tomorrow's New York Times is a carrying a lead story on the sizzling Indian economy.’
      • ‘Can I say how refreshing it was to read your lead story on Dyslexia this week.’
      • ‘Highlights include our lead story on how tactical voting using the internet could prove crucial in the upcoming general election.’
      • ‘The following morning, newspapers across Canada made the story their front-page lead.’
      • ‘The fight was still the lead item on the local news last night.’
      • ‘The lead story in the paper concerned a shipment of silver bullion, which had disappeared four months earlier.’
      • ‘The New Yorker magazine devoted its lead comment piece to a fervently argued case against war.’
      • ‘Rivalry between the Advertiser and the Register was fierce, and the two went to great lengths in competition for lead stories.’
      • ‘Her article is the lead in "The New York Times" today.’
      • ‘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’
    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’
  • 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’
    • ‘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 prisoners were lifted to their feet, had their ankle bindings cut and ropes tied loosely round their necks like animal leads.’
    • ‘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 Jack Russell ran around the children, and the lead wrapped round the neck of one of them.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His first was Tara, whom he would take out on a lead around Belgravia after dark.’
    • ‘She was the inspiration for a collection of dog leads and collars I designed for a charity dog show at Harrods.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I would like to warn people about those dog leads that stretch in order that their animals can have a wander.’
    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.

    ‘There was a large metal case, with various wires, leads, and tubes connected.’
    • ‘Carry out a safety check: tidy trailing electrical leads, plug electricity points for young children and make sure your smoke detectors work.’
    • ‘He starts dragging out wires and leads, trying to fix the patching.’
    • ‘I saw a telephone sure enough, but smashed to pieces, the bare wire of its leads stretched across the room.’
    • ‘On several of the satellites, we wound up having to re-attach the wire leads in order to make good contact.’
    • ‘I checked the electrical leads, replaced a bolt someone had left out of the starter and tried to turn her over.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He saw a flex lead, grabbed it and tried to tie her to her chair.’
    • ‘For the basic installation, the plus and minus 12-volt power leads are the only two other wires that need to be connected.’
    • ‘It connects using an internal network card and a lead running to the router.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We'd better check the mains lead is plugged in properly at the back of your computer.’
    • ‘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.’
  • 6The distance advanced by a screw in one turn.

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

    1. 7.1A channel of water in an ice field.
      ‘Winter ice pack consists of a diverse mix of ice of different thicknesses and floe sizes, and of open water in leads.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the Arctic, highest productivity occurs near ice edges and areas of open water such as leads and spaces between unstable floes.’


    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’
      • ‘He was good to have on your side and a great captain who led from the front.’
      • ‘He has grown into the role as captain of the club he clearly loves and leads 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.’
      • ‘Needless to say, he has also established himself as a successful captain who leads from the front.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He led from the front and was never found wanting.’
      • ‘Years after its formation, the association has led from the front in introducing various programmes for protecting the river.’
      • ‘Unlike many leaders, he led from the front rather than from behind.’
      • ‘He leads from the front and will not accept anything but total commitment; other players respond to that.’
    lead someone astray
    • Cause someone to act or think foolishly or wrongly.

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

      • ‘in a crime novel, the reader has to be led up the garden path’
      • ‘He said the people of Achill had been led up the garden path on the scheme.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 shouldn't have led her up the garden path.’
      • ‘The man may have led her up the garden path, but why did she let him do it?’
      • ‘She leads him up the garden path and into an increasingly messy saga of sex, lies and videotape.’
      • ‘It's very hard to convince a customer that the accountant is leading them up the garden path.’
      • ‘Ministers were last night accused of leading Leeds down the garden path over its doomed Supertram project.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The only person who led the Prime Minister down the garden path was the Prime Minister himself.’
    lead with one's chin
    • 1 informal (of a boxer) leave one's chin unprotected.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      1. 1.1Behave or speak incautiously.
        ‘she led with the chin and got her own way most of the time’
        • ‘He led with his chin, demanding that long-term board members stand down because they were ‘too old.’’
        • ‘And for a man who leads with his chin twice a week, he acts awfully surprised when someone takes a pop at it’
        • ‘Until it can be clearly refuted, no one wants to take the chance of leading with their chin.’
        • ‘Journalists are reluctant to traffic in old material - as long as the candidate isn't leading with his chin.’
        • ‘In a largely politically correct town the candidate for mayor is leading with his chin.’
        • ‘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?’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘We think we understand what he's trying to achieve, but as usual, he seems to be leading with his chin.’
        • ‘Just don't lead with your chin and rush in hoping for just one outcome: getting back together.’

Phrasal Verbs

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

      ‘she flirted with him and led him on’
      • ‘You led me on, making me believe you actually cared!’
      • ‘How long would you wait around if the girl you loved kept leading you on and then ditching you to date other men?’
      • ‘I just couldn't believe I had lead you on and been so insensitive.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Is he leading her on, or is this a love that will conquer the world?’
      • ‘It's never OK to force yourself on a woman, even if you think that she has been teasing and leading you 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘So before you go any further leading her on, you better figure out if you love her back or not.’
      • ‘She loathed Brent for leading her on, as she firmly believed he had.’
      • ‘Only half of me was in love with him, and I didn't want to lead him on.’
      • ‘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'd known for quite some time that she was in love with him, but he didn't want to lead her 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.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘He claimed in the witness box that the woman had led him on.’
      • ‘I thought it must be my fault, I must have done something, I must have led him 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.’
      • ‘He said the girls had invited him to the bedroom and claimed they had led him on.’
    lead up to
    • lead up to somethingImmediately precede or be the cause of something.

      ‘the authors describe the various events that led up to the sinking of the Titanic’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Mrs Wood also suggested her son had reduced his medication in the weeks leading up to his death.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Could I now take your Honours to the passages which lead up to that?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He had little recollection of what occurred after the incident, but a clear recollection of what led up to it.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The story is about the days and weeks leading up to his discovery of the test results.’
      • ‘The days leading up to Christmas would be filled with the wrapping of gifts over there.’
      • ‘We hope to be seeing them on this program often in the months ahead leading up to election.’
    lead with
    • 1lead with something

      (also lead off with)
      Start with something.

      ‘the news on the radio led with the murder’
      • ‘Ned leads off with a general survey of the objectives’
      begin, start, start off, open, get going
      View synonyms
    • 2lead with somethingBoxing
      Begin an attack with a particular punch or fist.

      • ‘Adam led with a left’


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

Main meanings of lead in English

: lead1lead2


Pronunciation /lɛd/

See synonyms for lead

Translate lead into Spanish


  • 1

    (also Pb)
    mass 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.

    ‘There's evidence that heavy metals such as lead and cadmium can make osteoporosis worse.’
    • ‘Its compounds tend to be found with ores of other metals, such as lead, silver, gold, and cobalt.’
    • ‘Unknown quantities of mercury, lead, chromium and cadmium are also on board.’
    • ‘Under the new rules, electronic equipment must be free of lead and other heavy metals.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They also detected high concentrations of lead and other heavy metals.’
    • ‘Crafted metal panels of copper, lead and even gold have changed little over the centuries.’
    • ‘Oxygen is also used in the production of other metals, such as copper, lead, and zinc.’
    • ‘Important heavy metals emitted by traffic and industry are lead and copper.’
    • ‘Large quantities of lead are used in ammunition for both military and sporting purposes.’
    • ‘The most common cause of lead poisoning today is old paint with lead in it.’
    • ‘Most older paints contain lead, the particles of which are released by any means of stripping.’
    • ‘Drinking water also can become contaminated with pesticides, lead or other 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 growth in the mining sector was due to increases in the output of diamond, zinc, copper and lead.’
    • ‘Their enterprise really began to grow after they switched from silver to pewter, an alloy of lead and tin.’
    • ‘The gold is melted in a high temperature furnace along with lead and silver.’
    • ‘At the time she sank she had on board copper, lead and zinc ingots valued at over £300,000.’
    1. 1.1Used figuratively as a symbol of something heavy.
      ‘Joe's feet felt like lumps of lead’
      • ‘My feet were like lead and I was struggling.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘My arms and legs felt like lead, and I immediately collapsed to the ground.’
  • 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. 2.3leadsLead 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.
      ‘A man leaped into the chains, and lowering down the lead sounded in seven fathoms.’
      • ‘Deep soundings above 6 fathoms (11 m) were impracticable so the practice then was to sound the depth using a line and lead.’
      • ‘You'll feel weed fall against the line and the lead get picked up by the swell.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 3mass noun Graphite used as the part of a pencil that makes a mark.

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


    Originally with reference to the metal strip used to create this space.


    a lead foot
    • 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’
    get the lead out
    North American informal
    • Move or work more quickly.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Your 5 minutes has already started, so you better get the lead out and start talking.’
      • ‘As a final thought, I'd like to encourage any aspiring columnists to get the lead out and submit something.’
    go down like a lead balloon
    • (of something spoken or written) be poorly received.

      • ‘the idea would go down like a lead balloon’
      • ‘The administration has, in fact, stopped talking about the president's amnesty proposal because it went over like a lead balloon.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The last attempt at vouchers, for nursery education, went down like a lead balloon.’
      • ‘My last caption competition went down like a lead balloon, so I'm hesitant to offer a prize.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘Predictably the news has gone down like a lead balloon, and not just among those who will be axed.’
      • ‘He said: ‘This is going to go down like a lead balloon and they will have a real battle on their hands.’’
      • ‘The film is a cumbersome, wayward commercial endeavor that goes over like a lead balloon before plummeting into insignificance.’
    lead in one's pencil
    • Vigour or energy, especially sexual energy in a man.

      • ‘Hot Springs water will put lead in your pencil!’
      • ‘I think the English equivalent is - ‘it puts lead in your pencil’.’
      • ‘Now we really will see if Gordon has any lead in his pencil.’
      • ‘A third term with a decent majority is really going to put lead in his pencil.’
      • ‘In other words - eat meat and it'll put lead in your pencil.’
      • ‘Indeed, there's no way of showing the lead in your pencil quite like a forced merger.’
      • ‘Who is responsible for the lack of lead in his pencil?’
      • ‘Yep those Oysters really put lead in your 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.’
      • ‘The old dog's still got some lead in his pencil.’
      • ‘I gathered snake was one of those foods thought to put lead in the old pencil.’


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