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Meaning and Origin

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Origin and Meaning of Lead

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Webster's Unabridged Dictionary
noun Lead
Senses
  1. [Chem] One of the elements, a heavy, pliable, inelastic metal, having a bright, bluish color, but easily tarnished. It is both malleable and ductile, though with little tenacity, and is used for tubes, sheets, bullets, etc. Its specific gravity is 11.37. It is easily fusible (melting point 327.5° C), forms alloys with other metals, and is an ingredient of solder and type metal. Atomic number 82. Atomic weight, 207.2. Symbol Pb (L. Plumbum). It is chiefly obtained from the mineral galena, lead sulphide.
  2. An article made of lead or an alloy of lead
    1. A plummet or mass of lead, used in sounding at sea.
    2. [Print]
      A thin strip of type metal, used to separate lines of type in printing.
    3. Sheets or plates of lead used as a covering for roofs; hence, pl., a roof covered with lead sheets or terne plates.
      "I would have the tower two stories, and goodly leads upon the top." [Bacon]
  3. A small cylinder of black lead or graphite, used in pencils.

Etymology: OE. led leed lead, AS. leád; akin to D. lood, MHG. lōt, G. loth plummet, sounding lead, small weight, Sw. & Dan. lod. √123

verb Lead
Senses
  1. To cover, fill, or affect with lead; as, continuous firing leads the grooves of a rifle.
  2. [Print] To place leads between the lines of; as, to lead a page; leaded matter.
verb Lead
Senses
  1. To guide or conduct with the hand, or by means of some physical contact or connection; as, a father leads a child; a jockey leads a horse with a halter; a dog leads a blind man. "If a blind man lead a blind man, both fall down in the ditch." [Wyclif (Matt. xv. 14.)]"They thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill." [Luke iv. 29.]"In thy right hand lead with thee The mountain nymph, sweet Liberty." [Milton.]
  2. To guide or conduct in a certain course, or to a certain place or end, by making the way known; to show the way, esp. by going with or going in advance of.Hence,(figuratively)To direct; to counsel; to instruct; as, to lead a traveler; to lead a pupil. "The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way." [Ex. xiii. 21.]"He leadeth me beside the still waters." [Ps. xxiii. 2.]"This thought might lead me through the world's vain mask. Content, though blind, had I no better guide." [Milton.]
  3. To conduct or direct with authority; to have direction or charge of; as, to lead an army, an exploring party, or a search; to lead a political party. "Christ took not upon him flesh and blood that he might conquer and rule nations, lead armies, or possess places." [South.]
  4. To go or to be in advance of; to precede; hence, to be foremost or chief among; as, the big sloop led the fleet of yachts; the Guards led the attack; Demosthenes leads the orators of all ages. "As Hesperus, that leads the sun his way." [Fairfax.]"And lo ! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest." [Leigh Hunt.]
  5. To draw or direct by influence, whether good or bad; to prevail on; to induce; to entice; to allure; as, to lead one to espouse a righteous cause."He was driven by the necessities of the times, more than led by his own disposition, to any rigor of actions." [Eikon Basilike.]"Silly women, laden with sins, led away by divers lusts." [2 Tim. iii. 6 (Rev. Ver.).]
  6. To guide or conduct one's self in, through, or along (a certain course); hence, to proceed in the way of; to follow the path or course of; to pass; to spend. Also, to cause (one) to proceed or follow in (a certain course)."That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life." [1 Tim. ii. 2.]"Nor thou with shadowed hint confuse A life that leads melodious days." [Tennyson.]"You remember . . . the life he used to lead his wife and daughter." [Dickens.]
  7. [Cards & Dominoes] To begin a game, round, or trick, with; as, to lead trumps; the double five was led.

Etymology: OE. leden, AS. lǣdanakin to OS. lēdian, D. leiden, G. leiten, Icel. leīða, Sw. leda, Dan. lede), properly a causative fr. AS. liðan to go; akin to OHG. līdan, Icel. līða, Goth. leiþanin comp.). Cf. Lode Loath

verb Lead
Senses
  1. To guide or conduct, as by accompanying, going before, showing, influencing, directing with authority, etc.; to have precedence or preëminence; to be first or chief; -- used in most of the senses of lead (v. t.)
  2. To tend or reach in a certain direction, or to a certain place; as, the path leads to the mill; gambling leads to other vices. "The mountain foot that leads towards Mantua." [Shak.]
noun Lead
Senses
  1. The act of leading or conducting; guidance; direction; as, to take the lead; to be under the lead of another. "At the time I speak of, and having a momentary lead, . . . I am sure I did my country important service." [Burke.]
  2. Precedence; advance position; also, the measure of precedence; as, the white horse had the lead; a lead of a boat's length, or of half a second.
  3. [Cards & Dominoes] The act or right of playing first in a game or round; the card suit, or piece, so played; as, your partner has the lead .
  4. An open way in an ice field.
  5. [Mining] A lode.
  6. [Naut] The course of a rope from end to end.
  7. [Steam Engine] The width of port opening which is uncovered by the valve, for the admission or release of steam, at the instant when the piston is at end of its stroke.
  8. [Civil Engineering] the distance of haul, as from a cutting to an embankment.
  9. [Horology] The action of a tooth, as a tooth of a wheel, in impelling another tooth or a pallet.
  10. [Music]
    1. The announcement by one voice part of a theme to be repeated by the other parts.
    2. A mark or a short passage in one voice part, as of a canon, serving as a cue for the entrance of others.
  11. In an internal-combustion engine, the distance, measured in actual length of piston stroke or the corresponding angular displacement of the crank, of the piston from the end of the compression stroke when ignition takes place; -- called in full lead of the ignition . When ignition takes place during the working stroke the corresponding distance from the commencement of the stroke is called negative lead .
  12. [Mach] The excess above a right angle in the angle between two consecutive cranks, as of a compound engine, on the same shaft.
  13. [Mach] In spiral screw threads, worm wheels, or the like, the amount of advance of any point in the spiral for a complete turn.
  14. [Elec]
    1. The angle between the line joining the brushes of a continuous-current dynamo and the diameter symmetrical between the poles.
    2. The advance of the current phase in an alternating circuit beyond that of the electromotive force producing it.
  15. [Theat] A role for a leading man or leading woman; also, one who plays such a role.
  16. The first story in a newspaper or broadcast news program.
  17. an electrical conductor, typically as an insulated wire or cable, connecting an electrical device to another device or to a power source, such as a conductor conveying electricity from a dynamo.
  18. [Baseball] the distance a runner on base advances from one base toward the next before the pitch; as, the long lead he usually takes tends to distract the pitchers.

Note: ☞ When used alone it means outside lead, or lead for the admission of steam. Inside lead refers to the release or exhaust.

Other Dictionary Sources
  1. The playing of a card to start a trick in bridge ("the lead was in the dummy")
  2. A position of being the initiator of something and an example that others will follow (especially in the phrase `take the lead') ("he takes the lead in any group", "we were just waiting for someone to take the lead", and "they didn't follow our lead")
  3. A jumper that consists of a short piece of wire ("it was a tangle of jumper cables and clip leads")
  4. Mixture of graphite with clay in different degrees of hardness; the marking substance in a pencil
  5. Thin strip of metal used to separate lines of type in printing
  6. Restraint consisting of a rope (or light chain) used to restrain an animal
  7. The timing of ignition relative to the position of the piston in an internal-combustion engine
  8. An advantage held by a competitor in a race ("he took the lead at the last turn")
  9. Evidence pointing to a possible solution ("the police are following a promising lead")
  10. The introductory section of a story ("it was an amusing lead-in to a very serious matter")
  11. A news story of major importance
  12. An indication of potential opportunity ("a good lead for a job")
  13. (baseball) the position taken by a base runner preparing to advance to the next base ("he took a long lead off first")
  14. An actor who plays a principal role
  15. (sports) the score by which a team or individual is winning
  16. The angle between the direction a gun is aimed and the position of a moving target (correcting for the flight time of the missile)
  17. A soft heavy toxic malleable metallic element; bluish white when freshly cut but tarnishes readily to dull grey ("the children were playing with lead soldiers")
  18. Cause to undertake a certain action
  19. Preside over
  20. Lead, as in the performance of a composition
  21. Move ahead (of others) in time or space
  22. Travel in front of; go in advance of others
  23. Take somebody somewhere ("We lead him to our chief")
  24. Be in charge of
  25. Be conducive to ("The use of computers in the classroom lead to better writing")
  26. Produce as a result or residue
  27. Tend to or result in ("This remark lead to further arguments among the guests")
  28. Stretch out over a distance, space, time, or scope; run or extend between two points or beyond a certain point
  29. Lead, extend, or afford access
  30. Cause something to pass or lead somewhere
  31. Be ahead of others; be the first
Wiktionary

From Middle English leed, from Old English lēad (“lead”), from Proto-Germanic *laudą (“lead”), from Proto-Indo-European *lewdʰ- (“lead”). Cognate with Scots leid, lede (“lead”), North Frisian lud, luad (“lead”), West Frisian lead (“lead”), Dutch lood (“lead”), German Lot (“solder, plummet, sounding line”), Swedish lod (“lead”), Icelandic lóð (“a plumb, weight”), Irish luaidhe (“lead”).

  1. (uncountable) A heavy, pliable, inelastic metal element, having a bright, bluish color, but easily tarnished; both malleable and ductile, though with little tenacity. It is easily fusible, forms alloys with other metals, and is an ingredient of solder and type metal. Atomic number 82, symbol Pb (from Latin plumbum).
  2. (countable) A plummet or mass of lead attached to a line, used in sounding depth at sea or (dated) to estimate velocity in knots.
  3. A thin strip of type metal, used to separate lines of type in printing.
  4. (uncountable, typography) Vertical space in advance of a row or between rows of text. Also known as leading.
    This copy has too much ; I prefer less space between the lines.
  5. Sheets or plates of lead used as a covering for roofs.
  6. (plural ) A roof covered with lead sheets or terne plates.
  7. (countable) A thin cylinder of black lead or plumbago (graphite) used in pencils.
  8. (slang) Bullets; ammunition.
    They pumped him full of .

Alternative etymology suggests the possibility that Proto-Germanic *laudą may derive from Proto-Celtic *loudom, from Proto-Indo-European *plow(d)- (“to flow”). If so, then cognate with Latin plumbum (“lead”). More at flow.

  1. (uncountable) A heavy, pliable, inelastic metal element, having a bright, bluish color, but easily tarnished; both malleable and ductile, though with little tenacity. It is easily fusible, forms alloys with other metals, and is an ingredient of solder and type metal. Atomic number 82, symbol Pb (from Latin plumbum).
  2. (countable) A plummet or mass of lead attached to a line, used in sounding depth at sea or (dated) to estimate velocity in knots.
  3. A thin strip of type metal, used to separate lines of type in printing.
  4. (uncountable, typography) Vertical space in advance of a row or between rows of text. Also known as leading.
    This copy has too much ; I prefer less space between the lines.
  5. Sheets or plates of lead used as a covering for roofs.
  6. (plural ) A roof covered with lead sheets or terne plates.
  7. (countable) A thin cylinder of black lead or plumbago (graphite) used in pencils.
  8. (slang) Bullets; ammunition.
    They pumped him full of .

From Middle English leden, from Old English lǣdan (“to lead”), from Proto-Germanic *laidijaną (“to cause one to go, lead”), causative of Proto-Germanic *līþaną (“to go”), from Proto-Indo-European *leit-, *leith- (“to leave, die”). Cognate with West Frisian liede (“to lead”), Dutch leiden (“to lead”), German leiten (“to lead”), Danish and Norwegian Bokmål lede (“to lead”), Norwegian Nynorsk leia (“to lead”), Swedish leda (“to lead”). Related to Old English līþan (“to go, travel”).

  1. (uncountable) The act of leading or conducting; guidance; direction, course
    to take the
    to be under the of another
  2. (uncountable) Precedence; advance position; also, the measure of precedence; the state of being ahead in a race; the highest score in a game in an incomplete game.
    the white horse had the .
    to be in the
    She lost the .
    Smith managed to extend her over the second place to half a second.
  3. (countable) An insulated metallic wire for electrical devices and equipment.
  4. (baseball) The situation where a runner steps away from a base while waiting for the pitch to be thrown.
    The runner took his from first.
  5. (uncountable, card games, dominoes) The act or right of playing first in a game or round; the card suit, or piece, so played
    your partner has the
  6. (acting) The main role in a play or film; the lead role.
  7. (acting) The actor who plays the main role; lead actor.
  8. (countable) A channel of open water in an ice field.
  9. (countable, mining) A lode.
  10. (nautical) The course of a rope from end to end.
  11. A rope, leather strap, or similar device with which to lead an animal; a leash
  12. In a steam engine, the width of port opening which is uncovered by the valve, for the admission or release of steam, at the instant when the piston is at end of its stroke.
  13. Charging lead.
  14. (civil engineering) The distance of haul, as from a cutting to an embankment.
  15. (horology) The action of a tooth, such as a tooth of a wheel, in impelling another tooth or a pallet.
  16. Hypothesis that has not been pursued
    The investigation stalled when all turned out to be dead ends.
  17. Information obtained by a detective or police officer that allows him or her to discover further details about a crime or incident.
    The police have a couple of they will follow to solve the case.
  18. (marketing) Potential opportunity for a sale or transaction, a potential customer.
    Joe is a great addition to our sales team, he has numerous in the paper industry.
  19. Information obtained by a news reporter about an issue or subject that allows him or her to discover more details.
  20. (curling) The player who throws the first two rocks for a team.
  21. (newspapers) A teaser; a lead-in; the start of a newspaper column, telling who, what, when, where, why and how. (Sometimes spelled as lede for this usage to avoid ambiguity.)
  22. An important news story that appears on the front page of a newspaper or at the beginning of a news broadcast
  23. (engineering) The axial distance a screw thread travels in one revolution. It is equal to the pitch times the number of starts.
  24. (music) In a barbershop quartet, the person who sings the melody, usually the second tenor
  25. (music) The announcement by one voice part of a theme to be repeated by the other parts.
  26. (music) A mark or a short passage in one voice part, as of a canon, serving as a cue for the entrance of others.
  27. (engineering) The excess above a right angle in the angle between two consecutive cranks, as of a compound engine, on the same shaft.
  28. (electrical) The angle between the line joining the brushes of a continuous-current dynamo and the diameter symmetrical between the poles.
  29. (electrical) The advance of the current phase in an alternating circuit beyond that of the electromotive force producing it.

    lead was also found in the following language(s): Hungarian and Old English

    Notable Persons Named Lead

    Lead Belly was a songster, country blues, and folk music musician. He plays Guitar, Accordion, Piano, Lap steel guitar, Stella (guitar), and Vocals. He was most active from 1903 to 1949. Lead was given the name Huddie William Ledbetter on January 20th, 1888 in Mooringsport, Louisiana. Lead is also known as Lead Belly and Leadbelly. He breathed his last breath on December 6th, 1949.

    Popularity:

    Where is the name Lead popular?

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    Popularity of Lead as a last name

    The map shows the absolute popularity of the name Lead as a last name in each of the states. See other popular names in New York, Washington, or California.

    Ethnicity Distribution

    Ethnicity Lead U.S.
      White 76.79% 64.26%
      African American 6.25% 11.96%
      Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander 6.25% 4.85%
      American Indian and Alaska Native 0.00% 0.69%
      Two or More Ethnicities 0.00% 1.76%
      Hispanic or Latino 8.04% 16.26%

    Of Last Name Lead

    People with the last name Lead are most frequently White

    Entire United States

    Fun Facts about the name Lead

    • How Popular is the name Lead? As a last name Lead was the 147,253rd most popular name in 2010.
    • When was the first name Lead first recorded in the United States? The oldest recorded birth by the Social Security Administration for the name Lead is Friday, December 5th, 1924.
    • How unique is the name Lead? From 1880 to 2017 less than 5 people per year have been born with the first name Lead. Hoorah! You are a unique individual.
    • Weird things about the name Lead: Your name in reverse order is Dael. A random rearrangement of the letters in your name (anagram) will give Aeld. How do you pronounce that?
    • How many people have the last name Lead? In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau surveyed 112 people with the last name Lead.
    • How likely are you to meet someone with the last name of Lead? Lead is one of the most unique last names recorded.

    What Leads Have Visited This Page?

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    • Sources:
    • U.S. Census Bureau: Frequently Occurring Surnames from the Census 2000 (public domain).
    • 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary via the Collaborative International Dictionary of English (License)
    • Other Dictionary Sources: WordNet 3.1 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University (License).
    • Wiktionary: Titles and License.
    • Notable persons via Wikipedia: Titles and License. Click each image for the attribution information.