leech

1
[ leech ]
See synonyms for leech on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. any bloodsucking or carnivorous aquatic or terrestrial worm of the class Hirudinea, certain freshwater species of which were formerly much used in medicine for bloodletting.

  2. a person who clings to another for personal gain, especially without giving anything in return, and usually with the implication or effect of exhausting the other's resources; parasite.

  1. Archaic. an instrument used for drawing blood.

verb (used with object)
  1. to apply leeches to, so as to bleed.

  2. to cling to and feed upon or drain, as a leech: His relatives leeched him until his entire fortune was exhausted.

  1. Archaic. to cure; heal.

verb (used without object)
  1. to hang on to a person in the manner of a leech: She leeched on to him for dear life.

Origin of leech

1
First recorded before 900; Middle English lech(e), Old English lǣce, lȳce; replacing (by association with leech2) Middle English liche, Old English lȳce; cognate with Middle Dutch lake, leke, lieke; akin to Old English lūcan “to pull up, pull out,” Middle High German liechen “to pull”

Other words for leech

Other words from leech

  • leechlike, adjective

Words Nearby leech

Other definitions for leech (2 of 4)

leech2
[ leech ]

nounArchaic.
  1. a physician.

Origin of leech

2
First recorded before 950; Middle English leche, lech, lecche, Old English lǣce, lēce; cognate with Old Frisian letza, leischa, Old Saxon lāki, Old High German lāhhi, Gothic lēkeis; akin to Old Norse lǣknir

Other definitions for leech (3 of 4)

leech3

or leach

[ leech ]

nounNautical.
  1. either of the lateral edges of a square sail.

  2. the after edge of a fore-and-aft sail.

Origin of leech

3
First recorded in 1480–90; earlier lek, leche, lyche; akin to Dutch lijk “leech, leech line,” Old Norse līk nautical term of uncertain meaning, but probably “bolt rope, leech line”

Other definitions for Leech (4 of 4)

Leech
[ leech ]

noun
  1. Margaret, 1893–1974, U.S. historian, novelist, and biographer.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use leech in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for leech (1 of 2)

leech1

/ (liːtʃ) /


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 animals: See also horseleech, medicinal leech

  2. a person who clings to or preys on another person

    • an archaic word for physician

    • (in combination): leechcraft

  1. cling like a leech to cling or adhere persistently to something

verb
  1. (tr) to use leeches to suck the blood of (a person), as a method of medical treatment

Origin of leech

1
Old English lǣce, lœce; related to Middle Dutch lieke

Derived forms of leech

  • leechlike, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for leech (2 of 2)

leech2

leach

/ (liːtʃ) /


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

Origin of leech

2
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