Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to leeching: Leech therapy

leech 1

1. Any of various chiefly aquatic carnivorous or bloodsucking annelid worms of the class (or subclass) Hirudinea, of which one species (Hirudo medicinalis) was formerly widely used by physicians for therapeutic bloodletting.
2. One that preys on or clings to another; a parasite.
3. Archaic A physician.
v. leeched, leech·ing, leech·es
1. To bleed with leeches.
2. To drain the essence or exhaust the resources of.
To attach oneself to another in the manner of a leech.

[Middle English leche, physician, leech, from Old English lǣce; see leg- in Indo-European roots.]

leech 2

n. Nautical
1. Either vertical edge of a square sail.
2. The after edge of a fore-and-aft sail.

[Middle English leche, probably from Middle Low German līk, leech line; see leig- in Indo-European roots.]


The use of bloodsucking leeches for medical purposes, such as drawing off blood or preventing coagulation at a wound.
References in periodicals archive ?
Therapeutic leeching and bloodletting, incidentally, were prevalent in Britain and Europe till not that long ago.
Research is still being done into other possible benefits of leeching - osteoarthritis for example - and leeches are also used by vets for hematomas following limb removal or road accidents.
Following historical and leech biology overviews, they present techniques, indications and contraindications for leech therapy in treating various conditions, the role of leeching in integrative medicine, and legal aspects.