Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A person who leads others, especially in illicit or informal activities.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a leader of a group of people, especially an unofficial group
  • n. a person who starts and leads a disturbance (such as a riot), a conspiracy, or a criminal gang

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The leader of a circle of dancers; hence, the leader of a number of persons acting together; the leader of a herd of animals.
  • n. Opprobriously, a leader of a body of men engaged in the violation of law or in an illegal enterprise, as rioters, mutineers, or the like.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One who leads a ring, as of dancers; one who opens a ball.
  • n. Hence The leader or chief in any enterprise; particularly, one who leads and incites others to the violation of the law or the recognized rules of society: as, the ringleader in a riot or a mutiny.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a person who leads (especially in illicit activities)

Etymologies

ring +‎ leader (Wiktionary)

Examples

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