• synonyms

red lead

  1. an orange to red, heavy, earthy, water-insoluble, poisonous powder, Pb3O4, obtained by heating litharge in the presence of air: used chiefly as a paint pigment, in the manufacture of glass and glazes, and in storage batteries.
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Compare litharge.

Origin of red lead

late Middle English word dating back to 1400–50
Also called minium.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for red lead

Historical Examples

  • Chips was there the whole afternoon on his knees, messing with putty and red-lead.


    Joseph Conrad

  • Perhaps the most interesting experiment made by Hales is the heating of minium (red-lead) with the production of oxygen.

  • Theophrastus mentions a substitute for vermilion, but, in spite of commentators, there is no evidence that it was red-lead.

    De Re Metallica

    Georgius Agricola

  • The Dhimal propitiate Data and Bedata by presents of betel-leaf and red-lead.

  • The joints between the rings of tubbing are made with sheet lead one-eighth of an inch thick, coated with red-lead.

British Dictionary definitions for red lead

red lead

  1. a bright-red poisonous insoluble oxide of lead usually obtained as a powder by heating litharge in air. It is used as a pigment in paints. Formula: Pb 3 O 4Also called: minium
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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