This one messed us up for years, but we've finally cracked it! Sit tight, there are lots of meanings here.
Lead as a noun can be a dark metal which is actually quite poisonous. In this case it's pronounced "led" to rhyme with bed. But another object called lead (pronounced "leeeed") is often attached to a dog to take it for a walk!
Many people also use the word lead to mean the past tense of "to lead", as in leading something away from or towards.
e.g. "The teacher was leading her class to safety as the school burned down behind them."
A simpler version of the above is:
e.g. "The teacher led her class to safety as the school burned down behind them."
You will often see it wrongly written as:
e.g. "The teacher
lead her class to safety..."
People probably muddle up led (past tense of to lead) with lead because of the word read. We read books, but in past tense use we say:
e.g. "Brian had read most of the books in the library."
We pronounce this "red" (again rhyming with bed) but inconsistently spell it "read"!