The great leader is one who can perspire a lot.

This "the" is what?


I would map this usage of the to this meaning found on Wordnik:

Used before a singular noun indicating that the noun is generic: The wolf is an endangered species.

Essentially, the quote is saying that great leaders work – they don't just tell other people what to do.

Instead of using the, the author could have used a plural noun form, or the indefinite article a, and the meaning of the sentence wouldn't change:

Great leaders are the ones who can perspire a lot.
A great leader is one who can perspire a lot.

However, the construct used in your quote is often used in inspirational or philosphical remarks:

  • “The true leader is always led.” (C.G. Jung)
  • “The predator knows that as long as there is unfinished business he can return.” (from The Psychology of Abusive/Predatory Relationships by M.J. Houston, 2012)
  • The troublemaker stirs up strife.


1.used to refer,to talk about , or show a particular thing or person when everyone knows which thing or person you are talking ,or because only one such person or thing exist:

where is the lowest point on Earth ?

  • I don't think that's the right meaning of the for the O.P.'s sentence. Surely, more than one great leader exists. – J.R. Jan 28 '14 at 20:49
  • please refer to Longman Dictionary . – mmb Jan 30 '14 at 8:19
  • 1
    I'm not questioning whether or not you have listed a valid definition of the word the (of course you have); I'm questioning whether or not the definition you have provided pertains to the question posed by the O.P. (which, in my mind, it does not). In this case, the word the is not used because everyone knows which leader we are talking about (clearly we don't) or because only one perspiring leader exists (clearly that's not true). My advice would be to go back to Longman, if that's your dictionary of choice, to find the definition that matches this context, or else delete this answer. – J.R. Jan 30 '14 at 10:36

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