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[ring-lee-der] /ˈrɪŋˌli dər/
a person who leads others, especially in opposition to authority, law, etc.:
a ringleader of revolutionary activities.
Origin of ringleader
1495-1505; ring1 + leader Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ringleader
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I will not deny that I was a ringleader in this affair, though I know I had no other motive than escape.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • Vallington, as the ringleader in this conspiracy, I call upon you for an answer.

    Breaking Away Oliver Optic
  • The ringleader owned a slaughter-house in El Toro, and, for a long time, nobody suspected him—the cattle were driven in at night.

    The Pride of Palomar Peter B. Kyne
  • It was at Boston, the ringleader in rebellion, that the issue was to be tried.

    Tea Leaves Various
  • But Parker, the ringleader, although a man of talent, was not equal to the task he had undertaken.

    The King's Own Captain Frederick Marryat
British Dictionary definitions for ringleader


a person who leads others in any kind of unlawful or mischievous activity
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ringleader

c.1500, from Middle English phrase to lead the ring (mid-14c.), probably from a medieval metaphor from dancing. See ring (n.1) + lead (v.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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