1 of 2


: something that leads up to or prepares the way for something else

lead up

2 of 2


led up; leading up; leads up

intransitive verb

: to prepare the way
: to make a gradual or indirect approach to a topic

Examples of lead-up in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
At some point, an officer shot and wounded the man, but police did not provide any details about the lead-up to the shooting. Robert Salonga, The Mercury News, 16 June 2024 The rivalry between Kansas and Missouri can be traced as far back as the lead-up to the Civil War, before Kansas was even a state. Will Daniel, Fortune, 15 June 2024
Today, cities like New Orleans have popularized carnival seasons, with lots of feasting, parades and parties leading up to Mardi Gras. Grace Tucker, The Enquirer, 12 June 2024 Trump has been indicted over his actions leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection — charges that focus heavily on the fake elector strategy. Jessie Opoien, Journal Sentinel, 11 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for lead-up 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'lead-up.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1942, in the meaning defined above


1861, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of lead-up was in 1861

Dictionary Entries Near lead-up

Cite this Entry

“Lead-up.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lead-up. Accessed 22 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

lead up

: to make a gradual approach to a topic
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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