How to Spell Lead — a Quick Spelling Guide

English spelling rules are made to be broken. Unfortunately, spelling is one aspect that gives the most trouble to students learning English.

Dictionary Definition of Lead

woman leading a man by holding his hand while walking on alley
Photo by Nicolas Cool on Unsplash

Lead, depending on the pronunciation, has multiple meanings.

Lead as a verb has the meaning of:

  • To guide you through a particular path, primarily through preparation.
  • The act of taking someone or something on a course or in a direction.
  • Providing the channel for something.
  • Planning or directing the operation, activity, or performance of something.
  • To be in charge of something.
  • Being the first (or one of the first) in doing something.

Lead, as a noun, has two different meanings. One of them is related to lead as a verb, whereas the other has nothing to do with them. Lead as a noun can mean:

  • The first position in something, like a race.
  • Initiative.
  • An advantage, upper hand, the high ground.
  • A clue

Or it can also signify:

  • The atomic number 82 signifies that lead is a soft, heavy metal element. You can find lead in alloys, batteries, and shields against sound, vibration, and radiation.

Example Sentences With Lead

To give you a better idea of deducting which lead you should pronounce, we will take a look at some examples. In these sentences, lead as a verb will be bold, and lead as a noun related to leading will be italicized. Finally, lead, the metal will be underlined so you can tell the difference. How to spell lead differs according to which homograph we refer to.

  • They believed their leader would lead them to victory; however, they could not be more wrong.
  • There has been a murder two blocks away; police say so far, they don’t have any leads.
  • Lead piping was installed in houses all across the US, creating severe health hazards.
  • Leading people from behind is something most leaders don’t understand.
  • After a tense stalemate, the Russian athlete took the lead.
  • I still can’t believe we put gasoline with lead in our cars until the 1990s!
  • Alright, I trust you. Lead the way.
  • The guide led them through the ancient streets of the city.
  • Japanese manufacturers took the lead when it came to variable valve timing.
  • The main metal that we see in bullets is lead. In fact, in some languages, bullet and lead signify the same thing.
  • The way we are being led, no wonder the country is going down the drain!
  • In English, the past participle of the verb lead is led.
  • I am going to find a lead on this case, and you have my word.
  • Scrappers are stealing road signs to sell the lead to junkyards.
  • The girl led them to a trap.
  • The leading innovation in automotive lighting are LED lights.

How to Spell Lead?

Depending on which word you are referring to, you can pronounce lead in two different ways. The phonetic transcription of lead as a verb is lEEd.

The phonetic transcription of lead as an element, on the other hand, is lEd

Here is where things get interesting. The past simple and past participle forms of the verb lead are led.  Led is pronounced the same as lead the element.

In fact, this is why we used bold letterings for led in the section above!


Lead is a verb which means ‘to guide or act as a guide, especially to a destination. ’ As a noun, lead is also a reference to a thin piece of metal, usually a round piece, used in assembling or repairing electrical devices or circuitry.

Whichever version of the word you need, now you know how to spell it.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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