Etymology
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ringleader (n.)

"the leader or chief in any enterprise," especially "one who incites others in something illegal, mutinous, etc.," c. 1500, from the Middle English phrase lead the ring "take precedence, be foremost in a group" (mid-14c.), which probably is an extended sense from a meaning "one who leads a ring of dancers." See ring (n.1) + lead (v.1).

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Definitions of ringleader

ringleader (n.)
a person who leads (especially in illicit activities);
From wordnet.princeton.edu