ring·​lead·​er | \ ˈriŋ-ˌlē-dər \

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

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 The infamous Kentucky bourbon theft ring finally comes to a close after its ringleader gets sentenced to prison. Bailey Loosemore, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky wants to drink bourbon for its birthday - not worry about it," 1 June 2018 Sixteen other men, including ringleader Matthew Tedesco, Atlantic City Firefighter Michael Pepper, and Margate Firefighter Michael Sher, have pleaded guilty. Amy S. Rosenberg, Philly.com, "South Jersey teacher, salesman, plead guilty in Shore health benefits scam," 26 Mar. 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

Share ringleader

Dictionary Entries near ringleader

ring joint







Statistics for ringleader

Last Updated

8 Jan 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 \

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).


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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!