The Meaning of Lead: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of lead? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word lead, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word lead mean?

According to Dictionary and Your Dictionary, the word lead has a plethora of different meanings. First, the word lead can be used as a verb, meaning to conduct or escort, usually by holding and guiding, or to show the way. This can also be used as a noun to refer to the person who is in the first or foremost place in advance of others, or the extent to which the person is leading. For example, the person who is  to have direction or charge of as in to lead an army, sales team, political party,  or an exploring party as a measure of precedence. Lead can also be used as an adjective in many different ways. It most commonly means most important, or principal. It can also be used in football to refer to a forward pass that is thrown ahead of the intended receiver so as to allow him to catch it while running, or baseball to refer to a base runner or batter in an advance position, as well as the timing of ignition relative to the position of the piston in an internal-combustion engine. Lead can also mean the angle between the direction of the firing of a gun is aimed and the position of a moving target which corrects for the flight time of the missile, or a jumper that consists of a short piece of wire.

In chemistry, the word lead is a noun that refers to heavy, comparatively soft, malleable, bluish-gray metal. This metal is sometimes found in its natural state, however it is usually combined as a sulfide, especially in galena. Information on this metal is as follows: Symbol: Pb; atomic weight/atomic wt: 207.19; atomic number/atomic no.: 82; specific gravity: 11.34 at 20°C.  Lead is a pliable, heavy,  inelastic metal element, which has a bright, bluish color and is an ingredient of solder, but is easily tarnished. It is both malleable and ductile, though with little tenacity. This can also refer to something that is made of this metal or one of its  alloys, accumulators, cable sheaths, paints, and as a radiation shield, or some plummet or pass of lead that is suspended by a line. It can also be used as a verb or adjective in this sense, or can be used to refer to a lead weight suspended on a line used to take soundings of the depth of water. 

The word lead can also refer to bullets that have been shot, black lead or a mixture of graphite and clay that is used in as the marking substance in pencils, or in the printing industry to refer to a thin strip of metal or brass less than type-high, which is used for increasing the space between lines of type. In stained glass, lead refers to the grooved bar of lead which sections of glass are set in. Finally, imn British English, this refers to a roof that is shallow or flat, and covered with lead. Lead has numerous other definitions that refer to things like the width of port opening, the action of a tooth or the tooth of a wheel, a course of a rope, a release of steam from a valve, the end of its stroke, a distance of haul, a fleet of yachts and the lead of a boat, and more.

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word lead?

SYNONYMS (from Power Thesaurus)

  •  head
  •  cause
  •  control
  •  leader
  •  forefront
  •  leading
  •  principal
  •  leading role
  •  leading man
  •  track
  •  show
  •  star
  •  superintend
  •  oversee
  •  bring
  •  run
  •  conduct
  •  result
  •  guide
  •  dispose
  •  accompany
  •  head up
  •  take
  •  pilot
  •  administer
  •  prerogative
  •  persuade
  •  leash
  •  front
  •  usher
  •  hint
  •  leadership
  •  command
  •  trail
  •  clue
  •  move
  •  escort
  •  precede
  •  carry
  •  steer
  •  influence
  •  shepherd
  •  rule
  •  manage
  •  govern
  •  supervise
  •  pass
  •  drive
  •  chair
  •  advantage
  •  direct

ANTONYMS (from Power Thesaurus)

  •  put up with
  •  play it by the book
  •  agree to
  •  adhere to
  •  trail
  •  ask where to go
  •  come to heel
  •  give in to
  •  give way to
  •  catch the bus
  •  keep in step
  •  be regulated by
  •  accept
  •  consent to
  •  bow to
  •  ask for the road
  •  be controlled by
  •  obey
  •  accept orders from
  •  be dutiful to
  •  yield to
  •  be governed by
  •  follow up
  •  comply with
  •  take it lying down
  •  abide by
  •  do what someone says
  •  chase
  •  heed
  •  stomach
  •  play by the rules
  •  submit to
  •  ask for directions
  •  observe
  •  be subject to
  •  surrender to
  •  ask for direction
  •  defer to
  •  fall into line with
  •  follow the orders of
  •  conform to
  •  brook
  •  carry out the orders of
  •  dog
  •  lump it
  •  truckle to
  •  follow
  •  be ruled by
  •  take orders from
  •  ask the way

What is the origin of the word lead?

According to Etymonline, the word lead has been used since the Middle English leden, and comes from the Old English lǣdan, Old English lēad, and Old High German līdan. This word can also be compared to the Scots leid‎, lede North Frisian lud‎, luad, West Frisian lead‎, Dutch lood‎, German Lot‎ , Swedish lod‎ lead, Icelandic lóð‎, and Irish luaidhe‎.

How can the word lead be used in a sentence?

Lead can be used in many sentences in different parts of speech and tenses like the past tense or past participle. Some examples of lead are below.

The conductor leads the orchestra and the lead singer through the piece of music.

The witness played a principal part in the lead story about the diamond. Their information on the time of flight to the next base and the potential customer that entered the store was crucial to the news.

He bet it all when he was in the lead in the round of cards, but found himself in misery after the playing of a card that made him lose it all.

Orators of all ages took numerous leads from the different speakers. They advised them on many topics, from a transaction to admission to college and more. The pupil sat there in shock.

The jockey on the white horse took the reins and the lead in the race to the surprise of many. This was an important entry in the jockey’s career record.

Overall, the word lead means to guide the way or play a principal role. It can also refer to the toxic bluish-white metallic element. This toxic malleable metallic element has a specific melting point and corrosion or tarnishes that are dangerous and different degrees of hardness. A mass of lead has the symbol Pb and a specific valency and relative density, and may be used in electrical connection, or the top position of a roof covering. 


  1. lead | Origin and meaning of lead | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  2. Lead synonyms – 2 757 Words and Phrases for Lead | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Lead antonyms – 402 Opposites of Lead | Power Thesaurus 
  4. Lead | Definition of Lead | 
  5. Lead Meaning | Best 134 Definitions of Lead | Your Dictionary