Difference Between Lead and Lede

Main Difference

The main difference between lead and lede is that lead is the preferred spelling for the introductory section of some news story in a newspaper, whereas lede is also used instead in specific situations and is not incorrect.

Lead vs. Lede

Lead is the alternative form of lede. The word lead falls into the category of nouns. The word lede also falls into the category of noun. Lead is a heavy and pliable metal element. A lede is a man or a person. The color of the element lead is bright, bluish. Lede has its use in journalism as the introductory paragraph/paragraph(s) of a newspaper or other news article.

The word lead is also a verb and an adjective. The word lede is only a noun. The meaning of lead as a verb is to fill, cover, or affect with lead. It also means to guide or conduct through any physical contact as a verb. e.g., a kind lady leading a blind man, a jockey leading a horse with a halter, etc. The noun lede is the opening paragraph or sentence of any news article that gives the summary of the whole article.

The origin of the word lead dates back to the old English word “lǣdan.” The origin of the noun lede dates back in newsrooms between 1950 and 1970. Earlier it was used as slang for the introductory sentence of an article or story. The Oxford English Dictionary introduces the word lede in the 1950s. Merriam Webster introduces it around 1970.

The noun lead, which is metal, is easily tarnished. It is malleable and ductile, has little tenacity, and easily fusible. It forms alloys with other metals. Lede is the newspaper slang. Lead has a type of metal atomic number 82. The common phrase with the word lede is “bury the lede.” It means to emphasize the important part of any story.

Comparison Chart

LeadLede
It is a heavy, pliable, metal element, with a bright blue colorThe noun lede is the opening sentence or paragraph of a news article
Spelling
Considered more accurateConsidered less accurate
Usage
More formalFigurative or slang
Preference
MoreLess
Meaning
As noun, verb, and adjectiveAs a noun only

What is Lead?

The word lead is a noun, a verb as well as an adjective. One of the meanings of lead is “the introductory sentence or initial part of a news story. Lead is a heavy and pliable metal element. The color of the element lead is bright, bluish. The meaning of lead as a verb is to “fill, cover, or affect with lead.” To lead means “to guide or conduct with the hand, or through any physical contact or connection. For example, a kind lady leads a blind man.

The meaning of lead as a noun is a metal element with the following properties. It is malleable, ductile, has little tenacity, and easily tarnished. Lead as a noun is also an ingredient of solder. It has atomic number 82. As an adjective, the meaning of the word lead is “foremost.

As a noun, the word lead has multiple things. It means the foremost position in a ranking or competition. It has another crucial meaning in the context of journalism before the dawn of the computing age. In the mid-20th century, Linotype machines were used in newsrooms to print the newspapers. These machines used lead as thin metal devices. It helped to separate the lines of print in the machine. In this context, lead refers to a thin strip of metal in the 20th-century printing machine.

What is Lede?

The word lead is newspaper slang. English is full of slang, jargon, and other terminologies that appear in specific narrow contexts. Lede has its use in journalism as the introductory paragraph/paragraph(s) of a newspaper or other news article. The word lede is a noun.

The word lede has an interesting history. Its origin dates back in newsrooms between 1950 and 1970. It was used as slang for the introductory sentence of a story at first. In the mid-20th-century, lede was used in the context of newsroom lingo. The Oxford English Dictionary introduced the word lede in the 1950s. The Merriam Webster introduced it around 1970. The noun ‘lede’ is also known as the alternative spelling of ‘lead’ once. In modern use, the noun lede is mainly journalism jargon for the first line or paragraph of a news story.

In brief, “lede” is the introductory and most important portion of an article or story that gives the summary or gist of the story. Lede is primarily or sometimes figuratively used in the phrase “bury the lede.” This phrase means to fail or to emphasize the most important part of a story, to begin a news story with nonessential details. The rhyming word with lede is need.

Key Differences

  1. The noun lead is a heavy, pliable, inelastic metal element, with a bright, bluish color, whereas the noun lede is the opening sentence or paragraph of a news article.
  2. Lead is the alternative form of lede on the other hand; lede is an alteration of
  3. The noun lead is a metal that is easily tarnished on the flip side lede is figuratively used in the phrase “bury the lede.” This phrase means “to emphasize the important part of a story.”
  4. The word lead is also a verb and an adjective on the contrary; the word lede is a noun only.
  5. Lead is the preferred spelling for the introductory section of some news story in a newspaper while lede is also used instead in specific situations and is not incorrect.

Conclusion

Lead and lead are the two competing words that cause regular confusion because they are used as an alternative for each other, but the word lede is an alternative word for lead.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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