from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun One that leads or guides.
  • noun One who is in charge or in command of others.
  • noun One who heads a political party or organization.
  • noun One who has influence or power, especially of a political nature.
  • noun A conductor, especially of an orchestra, band, or choral group.
  • noun The principal performer in an orchestral section or a group.
  • noun The foremost animal, such as a horse or dog, in a harnessed team.
  • noun A loss leader.
  • noun Chiefly British The main editorial in a newspaper.
  • noun Printing Dots or dashes in a row leading the eye across a page, as in an index entry.
  • noun A pipe for conducting liquid.
  • noun A short length of fishing line between the main line and the hook.
  • noun A blank strip at the end or beginning of a film or tape used in threading or winding.
  • noun Botany The growing apex or main shoot of a shrub or tree.
  • noun An economic indicator.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A plumber.
  • noun The first player on any trick in a game of cards; the player who sits on the dealer's left.
  • noun One who leads, guides, conducts, directs, or controls; a director or conductor; a chief or commander.
  • noun One who is first or most prominent in any relation; one who takes precedence by virtue of superior qualification or influence; a recognized principal or superior: as, leaders of society; a leader of the bar.
  • noun In the Meth. Epis. Ch., one who has charge of a “class,” which he meets at stated times, and over which he exercises a quasi-pastoral supervision. See class, n., 3 .
  • noun In music:
  • noun A conductor or director.
  • noun The principal first-violin player in an orchestra (concert-master), the principal cornettist in a band, or the principal soprano in a chorus.
  • noun That which leads or conducts; something that guides the course of a thing, or conducts to it.
  • noun In surveying, the foremost of the two chain-carriers.
  • noun A ring or gripper used for leading cattle, passed through the septum of the nose.
  • noun That which precedes; something that has a leading or foremost place, whether in actual position or in importance.
  • noun The principal wheel in a set of machinery.
  • noun A principal editorial article in a newspaper; one of the longer articles in a newspaper appearing as its own utterances or expressions of editorial views, whether written by the ostensible editor or by leader-writers or contributors.
  • noun A sinew; a tendon: as, the leaders of the fingers or toes.
  • noun Something offered as a special attraction to customers; a leading “bargain.”
  • noun In botany, the terminal shoot of an excurrent trunk, commonly forming the apex of a cone-shaped tree, as in the fir and the larch.
  • noun = Syn. 1 and 2. Commander, Head, etc. See chief.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Obs. or R., Obs. or R. One who, or that which, leads or conducts; a guide; a conductor.
  • noun Obs. or R., Obs. or R. One who goes first.
  • noun Obs. or R., Obs. or R. One having authority to direct; a chief; a commander.
  • noun (Mus.), Obs. or R., Obs. or R. A performer who leads a band or choir in music; also, in an orchestra, the principal violinist; the one who plays at the head of the first violins.
  • noun (Naut.), Obs. or R., Obs. or R. A block of hard wood pierced with suitable holes for leading ropes in their proper places.
  • noun (Mach.), Obs. or R. The principal wheel in any kind of machinery.
  • noun A horse placed in advance of others; one of the forward pair of horses.
  • noun A pipe for conducting rain water from a roof to a cistern or to the ground; a conductor.
  • noun (Fishing) A net for leading fish into a pound, weir, etc.; also, a line of gut, to which the snell of a fly hook is attached.
  • noun (Mining) A branch or small vein, not important in itself, but indicating the proximity of a better one.
  • noun The first, or the principal, editorial article in a newspaper; a leading or main editorial article.
  • noun A type having a dot or short row of dots upon its face.
  • noun a row of dots, periods, or hyphens, used in tables of contents, etc., to lead the eye across a space to the right word or number.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English leder, ledere, from Old English lǣdere ("leader"), equivalent to lead +‎ -er. Cognate with Scots ledar, leidar ("leader"), West Frisian lieder ("leader"), Dutch leider ("leader"), German Leiter ("leader, conductor, manager"), Danish leder ("leader, manager"), Swedish ledare ("leader, conductor, director"), Icelandic leiðari ("leader, conductor").


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word leader.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.