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leach1

[leech]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to dissolve out soluble constituents from (ashes, soil, etc.) by percolation.
  2. to cause (water or other liquid) to percolate through something.
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verb (used without object)
  1. (of ashes, soil, etc.) to undergo the action of percolating water.
  2. to percolate, as water.
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noun
  1. the act or process of leaching.
  2. a product or solution obtained by leaching; leachate.
  3. the material leached.
  4. a vessel for use in leaching.
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Origin of leach1

1425–75; late Middle English leche leachate, infusion, probably Old English *læc(e), *lec(e), akin to leccan to wet, moisten, causative of leak
Related formsleach·a·ble, adjectiveleach·a·bil·i·ty, nounleach·er, nounun·leached, adjective

leach2

[leech]
noun Nautical.
  1. leech3.
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leech3

or leach

[leech]
noun Nautical.
  1. either of the lateral edges of a square sail.
  2. the after edge of a fore-and-aft sail.
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Origin of leech3

1480–90; earlier lek, leche, lyche; akin to Dutch lijk leech, Old Norse līk nautical term of uncertain meaning
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

seepfilterstrainpercolateextractfiltratelixiviate

Examples from the Web for leach

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The next instant, Mr. Leach reported the anchor catted and fished.

    Homeward Bound

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Mr. Leach hailed the boats, and ordered them to send their gang of labourers on shore.

    Homeward Bound

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Heave the hussy up to her anchor, Mr. Leach, when we will cast an eye to her moorings.

    Homeward Bound

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • I say Leach, perhaps he might lend us a hand when it comes to the pinch with poor Monday.

    Homeward Bound

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • "They generally give 'em prayer, in the river, in this stage of the attack," said Leach.

    Homeward Bound

    James Fenimore Cooper


British Dictionary definitions for leach

leach1

verb
  1. to remove or be removed from a substance by a percolating liquid
  2. to lose or cause to lose soluble substances by the action of a percolating liquid
  3. another word for percolate (def. 1), percolate (def. 2)
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noun
  1. the act or process of leaching
  2. a substance that is leached or the constituents removed by leaching
  3. a porous vessel for leaching
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Derived Formsleacher, noun

Word Origin

C17: variant of obsolete letch to wet, perhaps from Old English leccan to water; related to leak

leach2

noun
  1. a variant spelling of leech 2
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Leach

noun
  1. Bernard (Howell). 1887–1979, British potter, born in Hong Kong
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leech1

noun
  1. any annelid worm of the class Hirudinea, which have a sucker at each end of the body and feed on the blood or tissues of other animalsSee also horseleech, medicinal leech
  2. a person who clings to or preys on another person
    1. an archaic word for physician
    2. (in combination)leechcraft
  3. cling like a leech to cling or adhere persistently to something
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verb
  1. (tr) to use leeches to suck the blood of (a person), as a method of medical treatment
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Derived Formsleechlike, adjective

Word Origin

Old English lǣce, lœce; related to Middle Dutch lieke

leech2

leach

noun
  1. nautical the after edge of a fore-and-aft sail or either of the vertical edges of a squaresail
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Word Origin

C15: of Germanic origin; compare Dutch lijk
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for leach

v.

Old English leccan "to moisten, water, wet, irrigate," (see leak). The word disappears, then re-emerges late 18c. in a technological sense in reference to percolating liquids. Related: Leached; leaching.

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leech

n.1

"bloodsucking aquatic worm," from Old English læce (Kentish lyce), of unknown origin (with a cognate in Middle Dutch lake). Commonly regarded as a transferred use of leech (n.2), but the Old English forms suggest a distinct word, which has been assimilated to leech (n.2) by folk etymology [see OED]. Figuratively applied to human parasites since 1784.

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leech

n.2

obsolete for "physician," from Old English læce, probably from Old Danish læke, from Proto-Germanic *lekjaz "enchanter, one who speaks magic words; healer, physician" (cf. Old Frisian letza, Old Saxon laki, Old Norse læknir, Old High German lahhi, Gothic lekeis "physician"), literally "one who counsels," perhaps connected with a root found in Celtic (cf. Irish liaig "charmer, exorcist, physician") and Slavic (cf. Serbo-Croatian lijekar, Polish lekarz), from PIE *lep-agi "conjurer," from root *leg- "to collect," with derivatives meaning "to speak" (see lecture (n.)).

For sense development, cf. Old Church Slavonic baliji "doctor," originally "conjurer," related to Serbo-Croatian bajati "enchant, conjure;" Old Church Slavonic vrači, Russian vrač "doctor," related to Serbo-Croatian vrač "sorcerer, fortune-teller." The form merged with leech (n.1) in Middle English, apparently by folk etymology. In 17c., leech usually was applied only to veterinary practitioners. The fourth finger of the hand, in Old English, was læcfinger, translating Latin digitus medicus, Greek daktylus iatrikos, supposedly because a vein from that finger stretches straight to the heart.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

leach in Medicine

leech

(lēch)
n.
  1. Any of various chiefly aquatic bloodsucking or carnivorous annelid worms of the class Hirudinea, one species of which (Hirudo medicinalis) was formerly used by physicians to bleed patients.
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v.
  1. To bleed with leeches.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.