white lead


: any of several white pigments containing lead
especially : a heavy poisonous basic carbonate of lead marketed as a powder or as a paste in linseed oil and used especially formerly in paints

Examples of white lead in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There has been a great deal of uncalled-for propaganda against the use of white lead because of its poisonous properties. Mark Fischetti, Scientific American, 14 Feb. 2023 Male members of the court of Louis XIV in France painted on beauty marks, while Elizabethan Englishmen powdered their faces with ceruse, a toxic mixture of vinegar and white lead. New York Times, 10 May 2021 In China and Japan too, elite women and some men used white lead preparations and rice powder to achieve complexions resembling white jade or fresh lychee. Lynn M. Thomas, Quartz Africa, 9 Mar. 2020 It is mortised throughout and the home's joints were set in white lead. Alice Adams, Houston Chronicle, 20 Sep. 2019

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

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of white lead was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near white lead

Cite this Entry

“White lead.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/white%20lead. Accessed 18 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

white lead

: a heavy white poisonous carbonate of lead used formerly as a coloring matter in exterior paints

Medical Definition

white lead

: any of several white lead-containing pigments
especially : a heavy poisonous basic carbonate of lead of variable composition used especially formerly in paints
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