mis·​lead | \ ˌmis-ˈlēd How to pronounce mislead (audio) \
misled\ ˌmis-​ˈled How to pronounce misled (audio) \; misleading

Definition of mislead

transitive verb

: to lead in a wrong direction or into a mistaken action or belief often by deliberate deceit His comments were a deliberate attempt to mislead the public.

intransitive verb

: to lead astray : give a wrong impression exciting as they are, they mislead— E. M. Forster

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Other Words from mislead

misleader noun
misleadingly \ ˌmis-​ˈlē-​diŋ-​lē How to pronounce misleadingly (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for mislead

deceive, mislead, delude, beguile mean to lead astray or frustrate usually by underhandedness. deceive implies imposing a false idea or belief that causes ignorance, bewilderment, or helplessness. tried to deceive me about the cost mislead implies a leading astray that may or may not be intentional. I was misled by the confusing sign delude implies deceiving so thoroughly as to obscure the truth. we were deluded into thinking we were safe beguile stresses the use of charm and persuasion in deceiving. was beguiled by false promises

Examples of mislead in a Sentence

We believe that her comments were deliberately meant to mislead the public. We believe that her comments were deliberately meant to mislead.
Recent Examples on the Web In April, the U.S. intelligence community reportedly believed that the Chinese Communist Party downplayed the outbreak and that China continued to mislead the world. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "White House official: Beijing allowed Chinese nationalists 'to seed and spread' coronavirus in US," 3 July 2020 Because despite what the recent federal response to a hurricane disaster on the island might mislead you to believe, Puerto Ricans are 100 percent American. Washington Post, "‘Hamilton’ isn’t just an artistic achievement — it’s also a moment of Puerto Rican pride," 3 July 2020 Trump has accused China, where the COVID-19 virus originated last year, of enabling its global spread by covering it up and pressuring the World Health Organization to mislead the world about the disease. Sabrina Eaton, cleveland, "Can he do that? Local health experts question President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization," 19 June 2020 The case went to arbitrator, who in a decision issued on April 9 concluded that Garland didn’t intentionally mislead the detective. oregonlive, "Washington County Sheriff’s deputy challenges placement on DA’s list of cops with potential honesty issues," 12 June 2020 Judge Nathan described prosecutors’ alleged efforts to conceal a late disclosure from defense lawyers and mislead the court about it. Mengqi Sun, WSJ, "Judge Hints at Potential Disciplinary Action for Prosecutors in Sanctions Case," 10 June 2020 Be extra cautious about posts purporting to break news; scammers often try to mislead people seeking quick news. Robert Anglen, azcentral, "Fake social media posts incite fear of suburban marauders, rape and murder across the U.S.," 4 June 2020 The most sophisticated efforts deliberately mislead law enforcement, according to Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineering professor and cybersecurity researcher Stuart Madnick. Samuel Zwickel, Detroit Free Press, "MSU: We won't pay hacker demanding ransom, threatening university over records," 3 June 2020 Projections about future increases are also misleading. Jessica Gold, STAT, "Don’t use ‘deaths of despair’ as rationale for reopening the country too soon," 31 May 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mislead.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of mislead

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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Time Traveler for mislead

Time Traveler

The first known use of mislead was before the 12th century

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Statistics for mislead

Last Updated

7 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Mislead.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mislead. Accessed 9 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for mislead


How to pronounce mislead (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of mislead

: to cause (someone) to believe something that is not true


mis·​lead | \ mis-ˈlēd How to pronounce mislead (audio) \
misled\ -​ˈled \; misleading

Kids Definition of mislead

: to cause (someone) to believe something that is not true His comments were intended to mislead the public.


mis·​lead | \ mis-ˈlēd How to pronounce mislead (audio) \
misled\ -​ˈled How to pronounce misled (audio) \; misleading

Legal Definition of mislead

transitive verb

: to lead into a mistaken action or belief : to cause to have a false impression

intransitive verb

: to create a false impression — compare deceive

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More from Merriam-Webster on mislead

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mislead

Spanish Central: Translation of mislead

Nglish: Translation of mislead for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mislead for Arabic Speakers

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