Main definitions of leech in English

: leech1leech2leech3

leech1

noun

  • 1An aquatic or terrestrial annelid worm with suckers at both ends. Many species are bloodsucking parasites, especially of vertebrates, and others are predators.

    • ‘Ever since doctors were using leeches, policy makers have been leveraging the threat of a medical crisis as a tool to change our minds.’
    • ‘Once considered a symbol of the practices of medieval physicians, medical leeches have emerged as a useful component of certain modern therapeutic protocols.’
    • ‘The study also shows that wild European medicinal leeches are at least three distinct species, not one.’
    • ‘And we don't get treated at the doctors with leeches anymore!’
    • ‘Like people, leeches do not always draw blood first time, and some have to be coaxed into biting.’
    • ‘Most of the leeches found in our lakes are parasites feeding on the body fluids of fish.’
    • ‘At the turn of the century, health care seems to have come light years from the days of leeches, country-side doctors and a lack of remedies for ailments such as polio, rubella and the German measles.’
    • ‘The leech is invaluable in microsurgery when faced with the difficulties of reattaching minute veins.’
    • ‘You get well, the leech gets fed, and everyone lives happily ever after.’
    • ‘He lay in his elaborately curtained bed dying of the fever and from the leeches the doctors attached to various parts of his body to suck his blood.’
    • ‘It's a bit of a shame, especially as the leeches used for therapy sessions aren't your average leeches.’
    • ‘In the mid-1970s leeches revolutionized the live-bait business in nearby Minnesota and Wisconsin.’
    • ‘He says today's development economics is like eighteenth-century medicine, when doctors would use leeches to draw blood from their patients and half the time kill them in the process.’
    • ‘For over 2000 years, leeches were needlessly applied for many ailments as an adjunct to blood letting.’
    • ‘The rhynchobdellids are strictly aquatic leeches that have small, porelike mouths in the oral sucker.’
    • ‘Tiger balm is great because it is easy to carry in your pocket, it's not messy and the leeches hate it.’
    • ‘In 1833 alone, French doctors imported 41.5 million leeches - a measure of the prevalence of bleeding.’
    • ‘The key to identification of leeches covers several features, including the number and placement of the eyes.’
    • ‘But some of these operations might have failed if leeches had not been reintroduced into the operating room.’
    • ‘While at rest, the medicinal leech lies under large objects on the shoreline, partially out of water.’
  • 2A person who extorts profit from or sponges on others.

    ‘they are leeches feeding off the hard-working majority’
    • ‘These adversaries were leeches, cowards who feed on the weak and helpless.’
    • ‘Robby had always known that the business was filled with leeches and liars - confused, timid men and women whose only chance of achieving success was to latch onto someone who had been deemed successful by others.’
    parasite, clinger, barnacle, bloodsucker, cadger, passenger, layabout
    extortioner
    sycophant, toady, hanger-on, fawner, yes man
    scrounger, sponger, freeloader, ligger, junketeer
    mooch, moocher
    View synonyms

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • Habitually exploit or rely on.

    ‘he's leeching off the abilities of others’
    • ‘I've seen a few of the files on various torrent sites, they are being leeched on by the thousand.’
    • ‘Is there a simple way that I can monitor traffic to see if any neighbors are leeching off of my connection?’
    • ‘Piggybacking or leeching on timely news is common as well, making it harder still to have any lasting impact.’
    • ‘It does the same thing, but instead leeches off of political opinions and events.’
    • ‘Those people who operate these servers… are parasites leeching off the creativity of others.’
    • ‘They are not to be manipulated or leeched off of for more than what they freely offer.’
    • ‘What I was thinking of with Wyatt would be an ability to leech off anyone around him.’
    • ‘If you want to leech off someone's Wi-fi to download the update, drive by my house and leech off mine.’
    • ‘The main limitation I see is that society would not work if everyone leeched off it in this way.’

Phrases

  • like a leech

    • Very closely and persistently.

      ‘you've been clinging to me like a leech all these months’
      • ‘She's barely come to when she's on him like a leech, but Laz will have none of that.’
      • ‘She likes being picked up, but tends to cling like a leech - both arms tight around your neck.’

Origin

Old English lǣce, lȳce; related to Middle Dutch lake, lieke.

Pronunciation:

leech

/liːtʃ/

Main definitions of leech in English

: leech1leech2leech3

leech2

noun

Archaic
  • A doctor or healer.

Origin

Old English lǣce, of Germanic origin.

Pronunciation:

leech

/liːtʃ/

Main definitions of leech in English

: leech1leech2leech3

leech3

noun

Sailing
  • The after or leeward edge of a fore-and-aft sail, the leeward edge of a spinnaker, or a vertical edge of a square sail.

Origin

Late 15th century: probably of Scandinavian origin and related to Swedish lik, Danish lig, denoting a rope sewn round the edge of a sail to stop the canvas tearing.

Pronunciation:

leech

/liːtʃ/