ring·​lead·​er | \ ˈriŋ-ˌlē-dər How to pronounce ringleader (audio) \

Definition of ringleader

: a leader of a ring of individuals engaged especially in improper or unlawful activities

Examples of ringleader in a Sentence

the ringleader of a gang of criminals

Recent Examples on the Web

The Car Wash probe grew rapidly and ensnared other giant Brazilian businesses, notably construction company Odebrecht SA, which Brazilian prosecutors said was the ringleader in the builders’ cartel. Samuel Rubenfeld, WSJ, "Petrobras to Pay $853.2 Million to Settle Corruption Probes in U.S., Brazil," 27 Sep. 2018 And save for Joe Biden, every current leading contender for the Democratic nomination either was a ringleader of the Kavanaugh spectacle (Sens. Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, "The Lesson of 2018," 1 Nov. 2018 Ellen Montanari, the 64-year-old ringleader, ignored Hasty. Christine Mai-duc, latimes.com, "They came for Darrell Issa. They stayed with their inflatable chicken, blue wall and cakes for political therapy," 25 Apr. 2018 McIntosh helped prosecutors build a case against her mother, Linda Weston, the ringleader of the group that held victims captive for years in a cramped basement in the plan to steal more than $200,000 in government benefits. Fox News, "Street preacher gets 27 years in 'Basement of Horrors' case," 13 Sep. 2018 Spanish prosecutors have charged the ringleaders of last autumn’s unauthorized referendum and subsequent declaration of independence with rebellion against the Spanish state. Jeannette Neumann, WSJ, "Catalonia Reminds Spain What Many Still Want: Independence," 11 Sep. 2018 Hill, described by prosecutors as the ringleader, pleaded guilty last week to the same charges and was sentenced to eight years in prison. Megan Crepeau, chicagotribune.com, "Last of 4 defendants pleads guilty to beating teen with disability in livestreamed Facebook attack," 12 July 2018 Now, of course today, the ringleader of all the anti-Trump hatred is not on other than Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the head of the Democratic Party. Fox News, "Andy McCarthy, Joe diGenova preview Peter Strzok's testimony," 27 June 2018 Even the film’s ringleader, a talented songwriter and performer named Mike, seems to gradually wilt over the course of the film, becoming less assertive and creative in both his artistic and personal life. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "This year’s Cannes Film Festival was a plea against complacency," 18 May 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of ringleader

circa 1503, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ringleader

Dictionary Entries near ringleader

ring joint







Statistics for ringleader

Last Updated

5 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ringleader

The first known use of ringleader was circa 1503

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ringleader



English Language Learners Definition of ringleader

: the leader of a group that causes trouble or is involved in an illegal activity


ring·​lead·​er | \ ˈriŋ-ˌlē-dər How to pronounce ringleader (audio) \

Kids Definition of ringleader

: a leader especially of a group of people who cause trouble

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on ringleader

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ringleader

Spanish Central: Translation of ringleader

Nglish: Translation of ringleader for Spanish Speakers

Comments on ringleader

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


an act or instance of returning to life

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!