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Lead vs lead

  • Lead and lead are two words that are spelled identically but are pronounced differently and have different meanings, which makes them heteronyms. These word pairs are often misused words. Heteronyms exist because of our ever-changing English language, and these words with the same spelling and different pronunciation and meaning are a challenge for those who wish to learn to speak English. It can be difficult to learn how to spell different words that look the same but are not pronounced the same, and how to use them in sentences, because they are easily confused. The way the pronunciations and definitions differ can be confusing even to native English speakers when attempting to learn vocabulary correctly. Phonological spelling and spelling rules do not always work, and most people avoid misspelling and misuse by studying vocabulary words from spelling lists, enhancing their literacy skills through spelling practice, and learning words in English by studying a dictionary of the English language. English words are also spelled according to their etymologies rather than their sound. For instance, the word tear meaning a liquid drop that falls from an eye is derived from the Old English word tear, meaning a drop or nectar; tear meaning to pull apart comes from the Old English word tearan, which means to lacerate. Heteronyms are confusing words and are commonly misspelled words because of the confusion that arises from words that are pronounced differently but are spelled the same and come from a different etymology. They are often used in puns and riddles. When reading, it is sometimes difficult to know which word is being used in a sentence and how to pronounce the word phonetically. A spell checker will rarely find this type of mistake in English vocabulary, so do not rely on spell check for these commonly confused words but instead, learn to spell. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a heteronym in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. Do not confuse heteronyms with homophones, which are two or more words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings like sow and sew; do not confuse them with homonyms, which are words that have the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings like spring as in spring forth and spring as in the season of the year. Heteronyms are a type of homograph, which is a word that is spelled the same as another word but has a different meaning. We will examine the definitions of the words lead and lead, where these words came from, and a few examples of their use in sentences.


     

    Lead (leed) maybe used as a verb or a noun. As a verb, lead means to guide someone, either physically by taking his hand, or in a figurative sense. Lead may also mean to guide the movement of an animal through the use of a tether. Lead may also mean to be in charge of something or someone, to direct someone, or to begin something. Related words are leads, led, leading, leader. As a noun, lead may mean one is the first in line or the instigator for something, the lead may be the principal in a situation such as a play or a movie, or it may be the tether one attaches to an animal in order to control it. The word lead is derived from the Old English word lædan, which means to march ahead of or to guide.

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    Lead (led) is a metal, the chemical symbol is Pb. Lead is a soft, bluish metal that is used in construction materials and bullets. At one time, lead was used much more widely in everyday items such as gasoline and paint, but studies found that lead is hazardous to human health. The word lead is often used to mean part of a pencil that make marks, but in reality, this material is graphite. The word lead is derived from the Old English word lead, which meant the metal we are familiar with, today.

    Examples

    Former Vice President Joe Biden, who continues to lead in national polls, has raised more money in the North Carolina than any of his Democratic rivals. (The Charlotte Observer)

    Directed by Radha Krishna Kumar, the film features Prabhas and Pooja Hegde in the lead roles. (India Today)

    It’s only been nine months since the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority started adding an anti-corrosive chemical to reduce lead levels in its water, but new test results show it’s working well. (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

    Leaders at the Bureau of Land Management in Arizona knew for years that recreational shooting sites north of Phoenix contained high levels of lead, but they failed to warn the public and their own employees, according to a federal investigation. (The Phoenix New Times)


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