red lead


: an orange-red to brick-red lead oxide Pb3O4 used in storage-battery plates, in glass and ceramics, and as a paint pigment

Examples of red lead in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The authors note that since the Middle Ages, red lead in oil has been used to preserve stone, wood, and metal against humidity, and one contemporary source mentions using lead-rich oil instead of the typical glue to keep the canvas from separating after years of exposure in humid environments. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 15 Dec. 2023 These include a painting fragment by Vincent van Gogh—likely due to the degradation of a red lead pigment as a result of exposure to light—and in the thick lead white impasto used by Rembrandt in several of his paintings, most notably The Night Watch. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 25 Oct. 2023 Connect the transformer's two red lead wires to the mains-load side of the on-off switch, and the two black leads to the neutral side. IEEE Spectrum, 31 Oct. 2018 The solid was lead carbonate — confirming that the red lead ore did in fact contain lead. Stephanie Demarco, Discover Magazine, 18 May 2021 As the 18th century drew to a close, French chemist Louis Nicolas Vauquelin was puzzling over a piece of red lead ore from Siberia. Stephanie Demarco, Discover Magazine, 18 May 2021 The book’s original illustrators, based in Angers, used red lead paint, while the artists in Nantes who painted over the portrait used vermillion red for Isabella’s gown and coats of arms. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, 21 May 2021 Isabella's coat of arms was added to the floral borders, using the same vermilion red as her gown, which the analysis distinguished from the red lead paint of the original. Maev Kennedy, CNN, 19 May 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'red lead.' 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

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of red lead was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near red lead

Cite this Entry

“Red lead.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

red lead

: an orange-red to brick-red oxide of lead used in storage-battery plates, in glass, and in paint
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