1the initiative in an action; an example for others to follow:Britain is now taking the lead in environmental policies
a clue to be followed in the resolution of a problem:detectives investigating the murder are chasing new leads
(in card games) an act or right of playing first in a trick or round of play:it’s your lead
the card played first in a trick or round:the ♦8 was an inspired lead
2 (the lead) a position of advantage in a contest; first place:the team burst into life and took the leadthey were beaten 5-3 after twice being in the lead
an amount by which a competitor is ahead of the others:the team held a slender one-goal lead
3the chief part in a play or film:she had the lead in a new film [as modifier]:the lead role
the person playing the chief part:he still looked like a romantic lead
[usually as modifier] the chief performer or instrument of a specified type:a lead guitarist
[often as modifier] the item of news given the greatest prominence in a newspaper or magazine:the lead story
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
5British a wire that conveys electric current from a source to an appliance, or that connects two points of a circuit together.
6the distance advanced by a screw in one turn.
7an artificial watercourse leading to a mill.
a channel of water in an ice field.
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
[with 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
2 [no object, with adverbial of direction] (usually lead to) be a route or means of access to a particular place or in a particular direction:the door led to a better-lit corridora farm track led off to the left
[with 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 [with object and infinitive]:a fascination for art led him to start a collection of paintings
[no object] culminate or result in (a particular event or consequence):closing the plant will lead to 300 job lossesfashioning a policy appropriate to the situation entails understanding the forces that led up to it
3be in charge or command of:a military delegation was led by the Chief of Staff
organize and direct:the conference included sessions led by people with personal knowledge of the area
be the principal player of (a group of musicians):since the forties he has led his own big bands
set (a process) in motion:they are waiting for an expansion of world trade to lead a recovery
[no object] (lead (off) with) begin a report or text with a particular item:the radio news led with the murder
[no object] (lead with) Boxing make an attack with (a particular punch or fist):Adam led with a left
(in card games) play (the first card) in a trick or round of play:he led the ace and another heart [no object]:it’s your turn to lead
4 [no 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 [with object]:the Wantage jockey was leading the field
[with object] be superior to (competitors or colleagues):there will be specific areas or skills in which other nations lead the world
5have or experience (a particular way of life):she’s led a completely sheltered life
lead someone astray
cause someone to act or think foolishly or wrongly:many people are led astray by strong feelings
lead someone by the nose
informal 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
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
lead someone up (or down) the garden path
informal give someone misleading clues or signals:in a crime novel, the reader has to be led up the garden path
lead with one's chin
(of a boxer) leave one’s chin unprotected.
behave or speak incautiously:she led with the chin and got her own way most of the time
Baseball bat first in a game or inning:Tony plays shortstop and leads off
(of a base runner) be in a position to run from a base while standing off the base.
lead someone on
mislead or deceive someone, especially into believing that one is in love with or attracted to them:she flirted with him and led him on
lead up to
immediately precede:the weeks leading up to the elections