from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The introductory paragraph(s) of a newspaper or other news article.
  • n. A man; person.
  • n. Men; people, folk.
  • n. A people or nation.
  • n. Tenements; holdings; possessions.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • A Middle English form of lead.
  • A Middle English form of lead.
  • n. A man; in the plural, men; people.
  • n. plural Tenements; holdings; possessions.

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

  • n. the introductory section of a story


Mid-20th century neologism from a deliberate misspelling of lead (reverting to its archaic, phonetic spelling – compare Middle English below), intended to avoid confusion with its homograph meaning a strip of type metal used for positioning type in the frame. Compare hed ("headline"). (Wiktionary)
From Middle English lede, leode, from Old English lēode ("men, people"), lēod ("man"). More at leod. (Wiktionary)



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  • It's interesting that 'lede' doesn't appear under the sense of 'lead' or 'intro' in the Century or OED. Wikipedia says it's journo-jargon, ostensibly used to differentiate itself from 'lead' or 'leading', the typographical property:

    It's also not a valid Scrabble word under TWL or SOWPODS.

    January 18, 2010

  • Usually used in the context of newspaper articles, for the first sentence which sums up the topic of the article. There are some very strange ledes out there. Here's one from MSNBC: "A carpenter who keeps his clothes clean by working in the nude was arrested after a client returned home early and found him building bookcases in the buff."

    March 28, 2009