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lead up to

part of speech: phrase
definition 1: to precede (something).
The months that led up to the event were filled with intense planning.
definition 2: to precede and cause, or to play a part in causing (something).
Various acts of misconduct led up to his removal as director of the agency.The police were trying to put together the events that led up to the explosion.
definition 3: to precede and to gradually and subtly introduce (something).
The various points she made in her essay led up to a brilliant conclusion.
definition 4: in speech or writing, to hint at or subtly introduce some, possibly surprising, announcement or statement to come.
With one complaint after another, I thought he was leading up to telling me he was quitting.What are you leading up to? Are you about to tell me you're leaving?