Definitions

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

  • noun The introductory portion of a news story, especially the first sentence.

from The Century Dictionary.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun singular A man; person.
  • noun Scotland Men; people, folk.
  • noun Scotland, singular A people or nation.
  • noun plural Tenements; holdings; possessions.
  • noun US, journalism The introductory paragraph(s) of a newspaper or other news article.

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

  • noun the introductory section of a story

Etymologies

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

[Obsolete spelling of lead, revived in modern journalism to distinguish the word from its homograph lead, strip of metal separating lines of type.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English lede, leode, from Old English lēode ("men, people"), lēod ("man"). More at leod.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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").

Examples

Comments

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  • 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

  • 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:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/News_style#Lead_or_intro

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

    January 18, 2010