Getting the lede out

In response to my post on “lede,” an editor for Marriam-Webster sends this:

Your message has been forwarded to me for reply.

“Lede” would be a good candidate for inclusion in our unabridged Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, and we thank you for offering your implicit suggestion that it gain entry somewhere.

It is a common term in the ink-stained world of newspapering (well, at least the end product is ink-stained), but in ordinary English usage, it’s not very common. Thus I see no grave error in this word’s absence from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, or from our other dictionaries, though, as I said, it could have good “legs” as an unabridged candidate.

I found an informative account of “lede” at this Random House page. If you haven’t seen it, it may be of interest to you:


Thanks again for writing.


Thomas Pitoniak, Ph.D.

I counter that “lede” isn’t just for journalists anymore. Examples here, here, here, here, here, … heck, look at all these examples when searching for “bury the lede,” … or “second day lede” … or “lede story.”

Some of these examples may come from journalists, but most of them don’t, and when they do, the articles are usually written for a general audience.

Clearly, “lede” has passed into the common vernacular. I blame the Internet. The net, especially blogs, exposed a whole non-newspaper world to a very handy word. “Lede” communicates so much more clearly “the start of a story” than the “lead,” which is too easily mispronounced as “led.” Once exposed to the word, non-journalists seem to cling to it and its exclusion from common dictionaries denies people who may never have seen it before a chance to confirm its usage and meaning.

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