Definition of led

 (Entry 1 of 2)

past tense and past participle of lead


\ ˌel-(ˌ)ē-ˈdē How to pronounce LED (audio) \

Definition of LED (Entry 2 of 2)

: a semiconductor diode that emits light when a voltage is applied to it and that is used especially in electronic devices (as for an indicator light)

When to Use Lead or Led

There is some persistent confusion about lead and led. Or, we should say, there is confusion about the leads and led. Lead is both a noun and a verb, as most people know. There are several unrelated nouns spelled lead: one most commonly refers to a metal (as in, "The paint was made with lead"), and the other most commonly refers to a position of advantage (as in, "Our team was in the lead"). The verb lead is pronounced /LEED/, with a long e; the noun that refers to a position or advantage is also pronounced /LEED/, with a long e; the noun that refers to the metal, however, is pronounced /LED/, with a short e. To this moderately convoluted situation, add the past tense and past participle of the verb lead, which is led and pronounced like the metal noun lead with a short e. The homophonic confusion leads to homographic confusion, and you will therefore occasionally see lead in constructions where led is called for (as in, “She lead the ducklings to safety” instead of “She led the ducklings to safety”). The correct past and past participle of lead is spelled led. If you aren’t sure whether to use led or lead as the verb in your sentence, try reading it aloud to yourself. If the verb is pronounced /LED/, use led.

First Known Use of led


1968, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for led


light-emitting diode

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Cite this Entry

“Led.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/led. Accessed 28 Nov. 2021.

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More Definitions for led


Kids Definition of led

past tense and past participle of lead


\ ˌel-ˌē-ˈdē How to pronounce LED (audio) \

Kids Definition of LED

: an electronic device that emits light when power is supplied to it


Legal Definition of led

past and past participle of lead

More from Merriam-Webster on led

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for led

Nglish: Translation of led for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of led for Arabic Speakers


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