mis·​lead | \ˌmis-ˈlēd \
misled\ -​ˈled \; 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 \ -​ˈlē-​diŋ-​lē \ 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 2007, Purdue and three executives pleaded guilty and agreed to pay more than $600 million for misleading the public about the risks of OxyContin. Angela Helm, The Root, "Makers of OxyContin Say They Will No Longer Market to Doctors in Stunning Reversal," 11 Feb. 2018 On average, states spend roughly $13,000 per student on public education—but looking at the average alone is misleading. Jack Schneider, The Atlantic, "The Problem With Generalizing About ‘America’s Schools’," 5 July 2018 But his attack on the company, ostensibly in defense of brick-and-mortar retailers, was misleading. Lucinda Shen, Fortune, "President Trump Claims Amazon Pays "Little or No Taxes." Here's Where He's Wrong," 30 Mar. 2018 The mailer is just one example of misleading and outright false claims Empower Texans has made in its effort to dethrone Republicans who have worked with House Speaker Joe Straus and other business-friendly GOP. The Star-telegram Editorial Board, star-telegram, "Beware deceptive political mail," 2 Mar. 2018 The San Diego County Gun Owner’s group has accused activists of misleading the public about how business gets done at Crossroads. Paul Sisson, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Crossroads gun show returns to Del Mar, so do protesters," 15 July 2018 Strzok’s attorney, Aitan Goelman, says Republican lawmakers have misled the public about Strzok’s role for partisan purposes. Eliza Fawcett, latimes.com, "Controversial FBI official Peter Strzok denies bias against Trump affected his work," 12 July 2018 Clinton could have been impeached for misleading the public and lying to staff members, Kavanaugh argued then, according to The New York Times. Nicole Darrah, Fox News, "Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's Supreme Court nominee, helped write 'Starr Report'," 9 July 2018 Critics scoff at this as being misleading at best, as generally peerage titles are conferred by heredity or by the monarchy. Robert Mccoppin, chicagotribune.com, "Want to be a Scottish lord or lady? Opportunity beckons at suburban festival, where 'titles' will be sold," 16 June 2018

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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Statistics for mislead

Last Updated

5 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for mislead

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

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More Definitions for mislead



English Language Learners Definition of mislead

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


mis·​lead | \mis-ˈlēd \
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 \
misled\ -​ˈled \; 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

Comments on mislead

What made you want to look up mislead? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something that serves to warn or remind

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