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
At each hut the bear and bear-leaders are treated to something good to eat and drink.
There she began talking to parents and community leaders about starting an
  early college high school on the reservation.
They yield to the leaders of their group, but they also sneak off to engage in
  clandestine affairs when no one's looking.
Other scientists, government leaders, inventors and investors worldwide want to
  hear from him.
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