Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

lead up to - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

phrasal verb [transitive]
Word Forms
present tense
I/you/we/theylead up to
he/she/itleads up to
present participleleading up to
past tenseled up to
past participleled up to
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  1. 1
    lead up to something if events, problems, actions, etc. lead up to an important event, they happen one after another in a way that makes it possible for the event to happen
    The negotiations leading up to the contract were very tough.
  2. 2
    lead up to something to happen or exist immediately before something
    In the weeks leading up to graduation I did very little.
  3. 3
    lead up to something to gradually direct a conversation toward a particular subject, especially one that is difficult or embarrassing
    I knew he was leading up to something, but I had no idea what.
See also main entry: lead


a course of study which is much shorter than a university course and focuses on the skills you need for a job, especially computer-related skills

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


an ancient Roman system of underfloor heating, used to heat houses with hot air; from the Latin 'hypocaustum'

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog