1 /li:d/ verb past tense and past participle led /led/ GO SOMEWHERE
1 GO IN FRONT (I, T) to go in front of a group of people or vehicles: You lead and we'll follow. | A truck with a jazz band on it was leading the parade. | a procession led by a man on a horse | lead the way (=go in front and show the way)
a) (transitive always + adv/prep) to take someone to a place by going with them: lead sb through/to/along etc: An official led me along the corridor to a large office.
b) (T) to take a person or animal somewhere while holding the person's arm or pulling a rope tied to the animal: lead sb up/down/through etc sth: The hostages were blindfolded and led to a waiting car. | A groom was leading a racehorse out of the stable.
3 ROAD/WIRE (I) if something such as a path, pipe, or wire leads somewhere or leads in a particular direction, it goes there or goes in that direction
(+down/into/towards etc): a flight of steps leading down to the beach | animal tracks that led into the woods | The thieves cut the wires leading to the surveillance cameras. | Where does this road lead?
4 DOOR (I) if a door or passage leads to a particular room or place, you can get there by going through it
(+ to/into): a door leading to the conference room CONTROL
5 BE IN CHARGE (T) to be in charge of something such as an important activity, a group of people, or an organization, especially a political party: a communist-led strike | Major will lead the Conservative Party at the next election. | Inspector Roberts is leading the investigation into Susan Carr's murder.
6 lead sb astray to encourage someone to do bad or immoral things that they would not normally do: We think Harry was led astray by some of the older boys.
7 CONVERSATION (I, T) to direct a conversation or discussion, especially so that it develops in the way you want: Mary led the conversation around to the topic of salaries.
8 lead sb by the nose informal to make someone do anything you want them to
9 (I, T) to be winning a game or competition: lead by ten points/two sets/four frames etc: Agassi was leading by two sets when rain stopped play. | lead sb/sth: Brazil led Germany 1-0 . | Schumacher led the race from start to finish. | With two minutes to play the Lakers are still leading.
10 (T) to be the thing that makes someone decide to do something: lead sb to do sth: What led you to take up acting as a career? | Ian's death led me to rethink what I wanted out of life.
11 lead sb to believe/expect/understand formal to make someone think something is true, especially when it is not: We were led to believe that all the money from the concert was going to charity.
12 lead a normal/exciting/dull etc life to have a particular kind of life: We lead a very quiet life since Ralph retired.
13 (I, T) to be more successful than other people, companies, or countries in a particular activity or area of business or study: US companies lead the world in biotechnology. | Asian-American students under 12 lead in literacy and numeracy. | lead the field (=be the most successful person etc in a particular area of business or study): a company that leads the field in software applications
14 lead the way to be the first to do something, especially something good or successful, which is likely to encourage others to do the same thing: The Japanese led the way in using industrial robots.
15 market-led/demand-led/service-led etc in which the market, demand etc is the most important influence on the way something happens: a demand-led recovery
16 this leads me to ... spoken used in a speech or discussion to introduce a new subject and connect it with what you have just said: This leads me to our sales targets for next year.
17 lead sb a dance informal to make someone feel worried and confused, especially because they do not know what you are going to do next: Once they were married, Gwen led her poor husband a hell of a dance.
18 lead sb up the garden path informal to deceive someone
19 (intransitive + with, transitive) to play a particular card as your first card in one part of a game of cards: He led with the eight of hearts.
20 lead with your left/right to hit someone mainly with your left or right hand in boxing
lead into sth phrasal verb (transitive not in passive) if one subject, discussion etc leads into another, the second one follows naturally from the first because there is a clear connection between them: Fox mentioned the Korean deal, which led into a general discussion on our prospects in Asia. lead off phrasal verb
1 (I, T) to start something such as a meeting, discussion, or performance by saying or doing something: I'd like to lead off by thanking Rick Jones for finding the time to be with us today. | lead off with: John, would you lead off with your views on the merger? | lead sth off: Hal led off the evening with some folk songs.
2 (I, T) if a road, room etc leads off a place, it connects directly with that place: lead off from sth: Go on for about 100 yards and you'll see a path leading off from the main road. | lead off sth: a dining room leading off the hall corridor
3 (I) AmE to be the first player to try to hit the ball in an inning (=period of play) in a game of baseball
lead to sth phrasal verb (transitive not in passive) to make something happen or exist as a result: an investment program that will lead to the creation of hundreds of new jobs | The bank has offered a reward for any information leading to the arrest of the men. lead up to sth phrasal verb (transitive not in passive)
1 if events lead up to something important that happens, they come before it, and often cause it: The book describes the trial and the events leading up to it.
2 to gradually introduce a subject into a conversation, especially a subject that may be embarrassing or upsetting for you or the person you are talking to: I suppose all this talk about "business opportunities" is leading up to a request for money?
USAGE NOTE: LEAD WORD CHOICE: lead, show the way, take, bring, guide, see, direct, tell the way To lead is to show the way by going first: You lead and we'll follow. | She led them down the mountain. More usually to show someone the way you just take or bring them somewhere: Please pick him up and take him to the hotel/bring him to my house (NOT usually lead). Roads, tunnels, corridors etc. may lead to places, but cars, planes etc usually take you there: This road leads to/takes you to Chicago but The train took me to Grand Central Station (NOT led, unless you were following behind the train!). If someone needs a lot of help you guide them somewhere in order to show them the way and explain things: We'll need someone to guide us through the hills. | He guides tourists around the castle. See someone somewhere may be used especially if you go with someone to a place because there may be some danger rather than because they do not know the way: It's very late - Do you want me to see you home? To direct (slightly formal) is to explain to someone how to get to a place, but not to go with them: Could you direct me to the station, please? Less formally you tell someone the way: Can you tell me the way to the station, please? GRAMMAR Remember the past tense and past participle of lead are both led: She's led an interesting life (NOT lead). 2 noun
1 RACES ETC the lead the position in front of everyone else in a race or competition: be in the lead: Le Mond was in the lead after the third lap.
2 take the lead
a) to go ahead of the other competitors in a race or competition: Korea has taken the lead in ship-building.
b) to take the responsibility for organizing something: It's up to the older members to take the lead and explain things to the newcomers.
c) to be the first to do something, hoping that others will copy you: The Americans have taken the lead in banning nuclear tests.
3 WINNING AMOUNT (singular) the distance, number of points etc by which one competitor is ahead of another
(+ over): The Bulls had a 17 point lead over the Celtics by halftime. (+ of): The latest polls give the Republicans a lead of 32%.
4 EXAMPLE (C) a suggestion or example for people to copy: give (sb) a lead: It's up to you to give a moral lead. | follow sb's lead: You say what you think is best. I'll follow your lead.
5 INFORMATION (C) a piece of information that may help you to make a discovery or help find the answer to a problem; clue 1 (1): The police have several leads as to the location of the stolen goods..
a) (C) the main acting part in a play, film etc: playing the lead in an amateur production of `Hamlet'
b) lead singer/guitarist etc the main singer, guitar player etc in a musical group
7 FOR DOG (C) BrE a piece of rope, leather etc fastened to a dog's collar in order to control it; leash 1 (1)
8 ELECTRIC WIRE (C) BrE an electric wire used to connect a piece of electrical equipment to the power supply; cord 1 (3) AmE
9 be your lead if it is your lead in a game of cards, you have the right to play your card first
3 noun
1 (U) a soft heavy easily melted greyish-blue metal, used for water pipes, covering roofs etc: lead piping
2 (C, U) the central part of a pencil
3 go down like a lead balloon if a suggestion or joke goes down like a lead balloon, people do not like it at all
4 (U) AmE old-fashioned bullets: They filled him full of lead.
5 leads (plural)
a) sheets of lead used for covering a roof
b) narrow pieces of lead used for holding small pieces of glass together to form a window
-see also: black lead, white lead

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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