Origin of leader

1250–1300; Middle English leder(e). See lead1, -er1
Related formslead·er·less, adjectivesub·lead·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for leaderless

Contemporary Examples of leaderless

Historical Examples of leaderless

  • Leaderless, they were helpless, and I believe they were happy in the change.

    Priestess of the Flame

    Sewell Peaslee Wright

  • There was just enough of bewildered, leaderless indecision to settle the matter.

    Two Arrows

    William O. Stoddard

  • And yet it was not the absence of the former which had left them leaderless.

  • Chicago is leaderless, purposeless, slovenly, down at the heels.

    Marching Men

    Sherwood Anderson

  • They were dazed, leaderless, struggling to restrain themselves.

    The Devil's Own

    Randall Parrish

British Dictionary definitions for leaderless



a person who rules, guides, or inspires others; head
  1. Also called (esp US and Canadian): concertmasterthe principal first violinist of an orchestra, who plays solo parts, and acts as the conductor's deputy and spokesman for the orchestra
  2. USa conductor or director of an orchestra or chorus
  1. the first man on a climbing rope
  2. the leading horse or dog in a team
mainly US and Canadian an article offered at a sufficiently low price to attract customersSee also loss leader
a statistic or index that gives an advance indication of the state of the economy
Also called: leading article mainly British the leading editorial in a newspaper
angling another word for trace 2 (def. 2), cast (def. 32a)
nautical another term for fairlead
a strip of blank film or tape used to facilitate threading a projector, developing machine, etc, and to aid identification
(plural) printing rows of dots or hyphens used to guide the reader's eye across a page, as in a table of contents
botany any of the long slender shoots that grow from the stem or branch of a tree: usually removed during pruning
British a member of the Government having primary authority in initiating legislative business (esp in the phrases Leader of the House of Commons and Leader of the House of Lords)
the senior barrister, usually a Queen's Counsel, in charge of the conduct of a caseCompare junior (def. 6)
Derived Formsleaderless, adjective
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

Word Origin and History for leaderless

1590s, from leader (n.1) + -less. Related: Leaderlessly; leaderlessness.



Old English lædere "one who leads," agent noun from lædan (see lead (v.)). As a title for the head of an authoritarian state, from 1918 (translating führer, Duce, caudillo, etc.). Meaning "writing or statement meant to begin a discussion or debate" is late 13c.; in modern use often short for leading article (1807) "opinion piece in a British newspaper" (leader in this sense attested from 1837).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper