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bleed someone white

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Extort money, take someone's last penny. For example, That contractor would have bled the department white, but fortunately he was apprehended in time. Presumably this term alludes to losing so much blood that one turns pale (and perhaps also to the idea that money is the life blood of commerce). [First half of 1900s]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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