a person or thing that leads.
a guiding or directing head, as of an army, movement, or political group.
a conductor or director, as of an orchestra, band, or chorus.
the player at the head of the first violins in an orchestra, the principal cornetist in a band, or the principal soprano in a chorus, to whom any incidental solos are usually assigned.
a featured article of trade, especially one offered at a low price to attract customers. Compare loss leader.
leading article ( def 1 ).
Also called leading article. British. the principal editorial in a newspaper.
blank film or tape at the beginning of a length of film or magnetic tape, used for threading a motion-picture camera, tape recorder, etc. Compare trailer ( def 6 ).
a length of nylon, silkworm gut, wire, or the like, to which the lure or hook is attached.
the net used to direct fish into a weir, pound, etc.
a pipe for conveying rain water downward, as from a roof; downspout.
a horse harnessed at the front of a team.
leaders, Printing. a row of dots or a short line to lead the eye across a space.
Nautical, lead1 ( def 40b ).
a duct for conveying warm air from a hot-air furnace to a register or stack.
Mining. a thin vein of ore connected with a large vein.

1250–1300; Middle English leder(e). See lead1, -er1

leaderless, adjective
subleader, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
leader (ˈliːdə)
1.  a person who rules, guides, or inspires others; head
2.  music
 a.  Also called (esp US and Canadian): concertmaster the principal first violinist of an orchestra, who plays solo parts, and acts as the conductor's deputy and spokesman for the orchestra
 b.  (US) a conductor or director of an orchestra or chorus
3.  a.  the first man on a climbing rope
 b.  the leading horse or dog in a team
4.  chiefly (US), (Canadian) See also loss leader an article offered at a sufficiently low price to attract customers
5.  a statistic or index that gives an advance indication of the state of the economy
6.  chiefly (Brit) Also called: leading article the leading editorial in a newspaper
7.  angling trace another word for cast
8.  nautical another term for fairlead
9.  a strip of blank film or tape used to facilitate threading a projector, developing machine, etc, and to aid identification
10.  (plural) printing rows of dots or hyphens used to guide the reader's eye across a page, as in a table of contents
11.  botany any of the long slender shoots that grow from the stem or branch of a tree: usually removed during pruning
12.  (Brit) a member of the Government having primary authority in initiating legislative business (esp in the phrases Leader of the House of Commons and Leader of the House of Lords)
13.  Compare junior the senior barrister, usually a Queen's Counsel, in charge of the conduct of a case

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. lædere "one who leads," from lædan (see lead (v.)). As a title for the head of an authoritarian state, from 1918 (translating führer, Duce, caudillo, etc.). Meaning "writing or statement meant to begin a discussion or debate" is late 13c.; in modern use
often short for leading article (1807) "opinion piece in a British newspaper" (leader in this sense from 1837).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Also described as bowl shaped or vase shaped, an open-center tree has no
  central leader.
Both sweet and sour cherries can be trained to a central leader or modified
  central leader.
On plants trained to stakes, keep one vertical leader.
Within eight weeks, the team leader will receive a decision.
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