n. & v.
n. 1 Chem. a heavy bluish-grey soft ductile metallic element occurring naturally in galena and used in building and the manufacture of alloys. °Symb.: Pb. 2 a graphite. b a thin length of this for use in a pencil. 3 a lump of lead used in sounding water. 4 (in pl.) Brit. a strips of lead covering a roof. b a piece of lead-covered roof. 5 (in pl.) Brit. lead frames holding the glass of a lattice or stained-glass window. 6 Printing a blank space between lines of print (orig. with ref. to the metal strip used to give this space). 7 (attrib.) made of lead.
v.tr. 1 cover, weight, or frame (a roof or window panes) with lead. 2 Printing separate lines of (printed matter) with leads. 3 add a lead compound to (petrol etc.). lead acetate a white crystalline compound of lead that dissolves in water to form a sweet-tasting solution. lead-free (of petrol) without added tetraethyl lead. lead pencil a pencil of graphite enclosed in wood. lead-poisoning acute or chronic poisoning by absorption of lead into the body. lead shot = SHOT(1) 3b. lead tetraethyl = TETRAETHYL LEAD. lead wool a fibrous form of lead, used for jointing water pipes. leadless adj.
[ OE lead f. WG ]