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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English ledinge, ledynge, ledand, ledande, ledende, from Old English lǣdende, from Proto-West Germanic *laidijandī, from Proto-Germanic *laidijandz, present participle of Proto-Germanic *laidijaną (to lead), equivalent to lead +‎ -ing. Compare West Frisian liedend, Dutch leidend, German leitend, Swedish ledande, Icelandic leiðandi.




  1. present participle and gerund of lead


leading (not comparable)

  1. Providing guidance or direction.
    Avoid leading questions if you really want the truth.
  2. Ranking first.
    He is a leading supplier of plumbing supplies in the county.
  3. Occurring in advance; preceding.
    Antonyms: following, lagging, trailing
    The stock market can be a leading economic indicator.
Coordinate terms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English leding, ledyng, ledinge, ledunge, equivalent to lead +‎ -ing. Cognate with Dutch leiding (conduit, leading, guidance, leadership), German Leitung (line, conduit, cable).



leading (plural leadings)

  1. An act by which one is led or guided.
    • 1792, William Carey, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the[1]:
      It has been said that we ought not to force our way, but to wait for the openings, and leadings of Providence; but it might with equal propriety be answered in this case, neither ought we to neglect embracing those openings in providence which daily present themselves to us.
    • 1892, Walt Whitman, “A Song for Occupations”, in Leaves of Grass [], Philadelphia, Pa.: David McKay, publisher, [], →OCLC, stanza 5, page 175:
      I do not affirm that what you see beyond is futile, I do not advise you to stop, / I do not say leadings you thought great are not great, / But I say that none lead to greater than these lead to.
    • 1904, Edward Dowden, Robert Browning[2]:
      In his poetic method each writer followed the leadings of his own genius, without reference to common rules and standards; the individualism of the Revolutionary epoch asserted itself to the full.
  2. (archaic) Command of an army or military unit.
    • c. 1587–1588, [Christopher Marlowe], Tamburlaine the Great. [] The First Part [], 2nd edition, part 1, London: [] [R. Robinson for] Richard Iones, [], published 1592, →OCLC; reprinted as Tamburlaine the Great (A Scolar Press Facsimile), Menston, Yorkshire, London: Scolar Press, 1973, →ISBN, (please specify the page):
      Art thou but Captaine of a thouſand horſe,
      That by Characters grauen in thy browes,
      And by thy martiall face and ſtout aſpect,
      Deſeru’ſt to haue the leading of an hoſte?

Etymology 3[edit]

From Middle English leedynge, equivalent to lead (chemical element) +‎ -ing.



leading (uncountable)

  1. (typography) Vertical space added between lines; line spacing.

Further reading[edit]