ring·​lead·​er ˈriŋ-ˌlē-dər How to pronounce ringleader (audio)
: a leader of a ring of individuals engaged especially in improper or unlawful activities

Example Sentences

the ringleader of a gang of criminals
Recent Examples on the Web Gaetz was a ringleader among the handful of GOP hardliners who stalled Speaker Kevin McCarthy's eventual victory and forced leadership to make number of concessions, including rule changes, that will be voted on this week. Phillip M. Bailey, USA TODAY, 12 Jan. 2023 The ringleader of a group that allegedly tried to steal a Banksy mural from a wall in Ukraine could face up to 12 years in prison, the country's Ministry of Internal Affairs said in a statement Monday. Josh Pennington, CNN, 3 Jan. 2023 Prince Heinrich XIII, 71, a well-off descendant of a 700-year-old noble family, may seem an unlikely ringleader of such a terrorist plot. Katrin Bennhold, New York Times, 11 Dec. 2022 The ringleader of the group was identified as Prince Heinrich XIII of Reuss, the 71-year-old descendant of a former German royal family. Erika Solomon, BostonGlobe.com, 7 Dec. 2022 The ringleader calls himself Mr. Scrooge (John Leguizamo, relishing a bad-guy role). Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 30 Nov. 2022 The alleged Taiwanese ringleader of a big telecoms fraud syndicate was all set to be extradited from Poland to China last month — a coup for Beijing’s international policing operations and its extensive efforts to hunt down fugitives. Emily Rauhala, Washington Post, 4 Nov. 2022 Chad Damiani, a veritable ringleader in the clowning community in L.A., takes on this taskmaster directing role, which bolsters the audience to join in the chaotic revelry onstage in rebellion against his exacting demands. Jake Kroeger, Los Angeles Times, 4 Aug. 2022 Prosecutors said members followed a mix of conspiracy theories and accuse its ringleader of reaching out to Russian officials during his attempts to bring about a new order in Germany. Will Oremus, Washington Post, 8 Dec. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1503, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ringleader was circa 1503

Dictionary Entries Near ringleader

Cite this Entry

“Ringleader.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ringleader. Accessed 27 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


ring·​lead·​er ˈriŋ-ˌlēd-ər How to pronounce ringleader (audio)
: a leader especially of a group of persons who cause trouble

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