1. a person or thing that leads.
  2. a guiding or directing head, as of an army, movement, or political group.
  3. Music.
    1. a conductor or director, as of an orchestra, band, or chorus.
    2. the player at the head of the first violins in an orchestra, the principal cornetist in a band, or the principal soprano in a chorus, to whom any incidental solos are usually assigned.
  4. a featured article of trade, especially one offered at a low price to attract customers.Compare loss leader.
  5. Journalism.
    1. leading article(def 1).
    2. Also called leading article.British.the principal editorial in a newspaper.
  6. blank film or tape at the beginning of a length of film or magnetic tape, used for threading a motion-picture camera, tape recorder, etc.Compare trailer(def 6).
  7. Angling.
    1. a length of nylon, silkworm gut, wire, or the like, to which the lure or hook is attached.
    2. the net used to direct fish into a weir, pound, etc.
  8. a pipe for conveying rain water downward, as from a roof; downspout.
  9. a horse harnessed at the front of a team.
  10. leaders, Printing. a row of dots or a short line to lead the eye across a space.
  11. Nautical. lead1(def 40b).
  12. a duct for conveying warm air from a hot-air furnace to a register or stack.
  13. Mining. a thin vein of ore connected with a large vein.


  1. a person who rules, guides, or inspires others; head
  2. music
    1. Also called (esp US and Canadian): concertmasterthe principal first violinist of an orchestra, who plays solo parts, and acts as the conductor’s deputy and spokesman for the orchestra
    2. USa conductor or director of an orchestra or chorus
    1. the first man on a climbing rope
    2. the leading horse or dog in a team
  3. mainly US and Canadian an article offered at a sufficiently low price to attract customersSee also loss leader
  4. a statistic or index that gives an advance indication of the state of the economy
  5. Also called: leading article mainly British the leading editorial in a newspaper
  6. angling another word for trace 2 (def. 2), cast (def. 32a)
  7. nautical another term for fairlead
  8. a strip of blank film or tape used to facilitate threading a projector, developing machine, etc, and to aid identification
  9. (plural) printing rows of dots or hyphens used to guide the reader’s eye across a page, as in a table of contents
  10. botany any of the long slender shoots that grow from the stem or branch of a tree: usually removed during pruning
  11. British a member of the Government having primary authority in initiating legislative business (esp in the phrases Leader of the House of Commons and Leader of the House of Lords)
  12. the senior barrister, usually a Queen’s Counsel, in charge of the conduct of a caseCompare junior (def. 6)

n.Old English lædere “one who leads,” agent noun from lædan (see lead (v.)). As a title for the head of an authoritarian state, from 1918 (translating führer, Duce, caudillo, etc.). Meaning “writing or statement meant to begin a discussion or debate” is late 13c.; in modern use often short for leading article (1807) “opinion piece in a British newspaper” (leader in this sense attested from 1837).

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