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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Leat \Leat\, n. [Cf. Lead to conduct.] An artificial water trench, esp. one to or from a mill.
--C. Kingsley.


n. an artificial watercourse, canal or aqueduct, but especially a millrace


A leat (also lete or leet, or millstream) is the name, common in the south and west of England and in Wales ( Lade in Scotland), for an artificial watercourse or aqueduct dug into the ground, especially one supplying water to a watermill or its mill pond. Other common uses for leats include delivery of water for mineral washing and concentration, for irrigation, to serve a dye works or other industrial plant, and provision of drinking water to a farm or household or as a catchment cut-off to improve the yield of a reservoir.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, leat is cognate with let in the sense of "allow to pass through". Other names for the same thing include fleam (probably a leat supplying water to a mill that did not have a millpool). In parts of northern England, for example around Sheffield, the equivalent word is goit. In southern England, a leat used to supply water for water-meadow irrigation is often called a carrier, top carrier, or main.

Usage examples of "leat".

The path to the right led between the rear of the guest-hall and the abbey fish-ponds, and beyond the second pool a little footbridge crossed the mill leat near the outflow, and brought her to a gateway in a mellow stone wall.

Two threads of silver made the only sparkles of light in the muted sunbeams, the nearer one the mill leat drawn off to feed the abbey pools and mill, the further one the Meole brook itself, here in a stony and broken bed, and looking curiously small by comparison with its broad flow in the abbey gardens, barely a mile downstream.

Down the steep slope, a light, springy leap over the mill leat for Joscelin, a more awkward and ungainly jump for Mark, and on to the brook.

The silver streak of the leat gleamed at her, she felt her way along the hand-rail of the bridge.

Utter silence and stillness, as though the leat, and the brook, and the river itself had stopped moving, the breeze ceased to breathe with them, the very plants to grow.

He had been showing his guests how superbly he could jump the leat, and had fallen into it.

Christmas or not, I've got to chip those wheels, clear the leat, then rebuild the paddles.

He crossed the leat bridge, something else that needed rebuilding, and stopped to gaze into the farm"s courtyard beyond the moat.

That southern slope overhung the drainage channel drawn off from the mill leat, frozen hard at present, but there would be no great difficulty in raising a scaffolding.

They resumed their passage through the gardens, skirting the frozen pools where Brother Simeon had chopped jagged holes to let in air to the fish below, and crossing the mill leat that fed the ponds by the narrow plank bridge glazed over with a thin and treacherous crust of ice.

They came leat, that is to say, from the four directions at once, each uttering that mountain-shattering roar.

To the right of the road the ground fell away towards the valley of the Meole brook, and the mill leat that was drawn off from it.