[ leech ]
/ litʃ /


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.
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.
Archaic. an instrument used for drawing blood.

verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

to hang on to a person in the manner of a leech: She leeched on to him for dear life.

Nearby words

  1. lee, sir sidney,
  2. lee, spike,
  3. lee, tsung-dao,
  4. lee-enfield,
  5. leeboard,
  6. leech line,
  7. leech rope,
  8. leechcraft,
  9. leechee,
  10. leeds

Origin of leech

before 900; Middle English leche, Old English lǣce; replacing (by confusion with leech2) Middle English liche, Old English lȳce; cognate with Middle Dutch lieke; akin to Old English lūcan to pull out, Middle High German liechen to pull

Related formsleech·like, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for leeching

British Dictionary definitions for leeching


/ (liːtʃ) /


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
a person who clings to or preys on another person
  1. an archaic word for physician
  2. (in combination)leechcraft
cling like a leech to cling or adhere persistently to something


(tr) to use leeches to suck the blood of (a person), as a method of medical treatment
Derived Formsleechlike, adjective

Word Origin for leech

Old English lǣce, lœce; related to Middle Dutch lieke




/ (liːtʃ) /


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

Word Origin for leech

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 leeching
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for leeching


[ lēch ]


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.


To bleed with leeches.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.