What does leech mean?

Definitions for leech

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word leech.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. leech, bloodsucker, hirudineannoun

    carnivorous or bloodsucking aquatic or terrestrial worms typically having a sucker at each end

  2. leech, parasite, sponge, spongerverb

    a follower who hangs around a host (without benefit to the host) in hope of gain or advantage

  3. bleed, leech, phlebotomize, phlebotomiseverb

    draw blood

    "In the old days, doctors routinely bled patients as part of the treatment"

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Leechnoun

    Etymology: læc , Saxon.

    A leech, the which had great insight
    In that disease of grieved conscience,
    And well could cure the same; his name was patience. Edmund Spenser, Fairy Queen, b. i.

    Her words prevail’d, and then the learned leach
    His cunning hand ’gan to his wounds to lay,
    And all things else the which his art did teach. Fa. Qu.

    Physick is their bane.
    The learned leaches in despair depart,
    And shake their heads, desponding of their art. Dryden.

    Wise leeches will not vain receipts obtrude;
    Deaf to complaints they wait upon the ill,
    Till some safe crisis. Dryden.

    The hoary wrinkled leech has watch’d and toil’d,
    Tried every health restoring herb and gum,
    And wearied out his painful skill in vain. Nicholas Rowe, J. Shore.

    A skilful leach,
    They say, had wrought this blessed deed;
    This leach Arbuthnot was yclept. John Gay, Pastorals.

    I drew blood by leeches behind his ear. Richard Wiseman, Surg.

    Sticking like leeches, till they burst with blood,
    Without remorse insatiably. Wentworth Dillon.

  2. To Leechverb

    To treat with medicaments.

    Etymology: from the noun.


  1. Leech

    Leeches are segmented parasitic or predatory worms that comprise the subclass Hirudinea within the phylum Annelida. They are closely related to the oligochaetes, which include the earthworm, and like them have soft, muscular segmented bodies that can lengthen and contract. Both groups are hermaphrodites and have a clitellum, but leeches typically differ from the oligochaetes in having suckers at both ends and in having ring markings that do not correspond with their internal segmentation. The body is muscular and relatively solid, and the coelom, the spacious body cavity found in other annelids, is reduced to small channels. The majority of leeches live in freshwater habitats, while some species can be found in terrestrial or marine environments. The best-known species, such as the medicinal leech, Hirudo medicinalis, are hematophagous, attaching themselves to a host with a sucker and feeding on blood, having first secreted the peptide hirudin to prevent the blood from clotting. The jaws used to pierce the skin are replaced in other species by a proboscis which is pushed into the skin. A minority of leech species are predatory, mostly preying on small invertebrates. The eggs are enclosed in a cocoon, which in aquatic species is usually attached to an underwater surface; members of one family, Glossiphoniidae, exhibit parental care, the eggs being brooded by the parent. In terrestrial species, the cocoon is often concealed under a log, in a crevice or buried in damp soil. Almost seven hundred species of leech are currently recognised, of which some hundred are marine, ninety terrestrial and the remainder freshwater. Leeches have been used in medicine from ancient times until the 19th century to draw blood from patients. In modern times, leeches find medical use in treatment of joint diseases such as epicondylitis and osteoarthritis, extremity vein diseases, and in microsurgery, while hirudin is used as an anticoagulant drug to treat blood-clotting disorders.


  1. leech

    A leech is a type of segmented worm characterized by its ability to suck blood or bodily fluids from its host. They are found primarily in freshwater environments, although some species can survive in terrestrial and marine environments, and are most known for their medical uses in the field of medicine. Leeches are typically brown or olive in color, with a small anterior sucker at the mouth and a larger posterior sucker used for locomotion.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Leechnoun

    see 2d Leach

  2. Leechverb

    see Leach, v. t

  3. Leechnoun

    the border or edge at the side of a sail

  4. Leechnoun

    a physician or surgeon; a professor of the art of healing

  5. Leechnoun

    any one of numerous genera and species of annulose worms, belonging to the order Hirudinea, or Bdelloidea, esp. those species used in medicine, as Hirudo medicinalis of Europe, and allied species

  6. Leechnoun

    a glass tube of peculiar construction, adapted for drawing blood from a scarified part by means of a vacuum

  7. Leechverb

    to treat as a surgeon; to doctor; as, to leech wounds

  8. Leechverb

    to bleed by the use of leeches

  9. Etymology: [OE. leche, lche, physician, AS. lce; akin to Fries. ltza, OHG. lhh, Icel. lknari, Sw. lkare, Dan. lge, Goth. lkeis, AS. lcnian to heal, Sw. lka, Dan. lge, Icel. lkna, Goth. lkinn.]


  1. Leech

    Leeches are segmented worms that belong to the phylum Annelida and comprise the subclass Hirudinea. Like other oligochaetes, such as earthworms, leeches share a clitellum and are hermaphrodites. Nevertheless, they differ from other oligochaetes in significant ways. For example, leeches do not have bristles and the external segmentation of their bodies does not correspond with the internal segmentation of their organs. Their bodies are much more solid as the spaces in their coelom are dense with connective tissues. They also have two suckers, one at each end. The majority of leeches live in freshwater environments, while some species can be found in terrestrial and marine environments, as well. Most leeches are hematophagous, as they are predominantly blood suckers that feed on blood from vertebrate and invertebrate animals. Almost 700 species of leeches are currently recognized, of which some 100 are marine, 90 terrestrial and the remainder freshwater taxa. Leeches, such as the Hirudo medicinalis, have been historically used in medicine to remove blood from patients. The practice of leeching can be traced to ancient India and Greece, and continued well into the 18th and 19th centuries in both Europe and North America. In modern times, the practice of leeching is much rarer and has been replaced by other contemporary uses of leeches, such as the reattachment of body parts and reconstructive and plastic surgeries and, in Germany, treating osteoarthritis.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Leech

    lēch, n. the edge of a sail at the sides. [Ice. lík, a leech-line; Dan. lig; Sw. lik, a bolt-rope.]

  2. Leech

    lēch, n. a blood-sucking worm: a physician.—v.t. to apply leeches to.—ns. Leech′craft, Leech′dom. [A.S. lǽce, one who heals; cf. Goth. leikeis.]

The New Hacker's Dictionary

  1. leech

    1. n. (Also leecher.) Among BBS types, crackers and warez d00dz, one who consumes knowledge without generating new software, cracks, or techniques. BBS culture specifically defines a leech as someone who downloads files with few or no uploads in return, and who does not contribute to the message section. Cracker culture extends this definition to someone (a lamer, usually) who constantly presses informed sources for information and/or assistance, but has nothing to contribute. See troughie. 2. v. [common, Toronto area] v. To download a file across any kind of internet link. “Hop on IRC later so I can leech some MP3s from you.” Used to describe activities ranging from FTP, to IRC DCC-send, to ICQ file requests, to Napster searches (but never to downloading email with file attachments; the implication is that the download is the result of a browse or search of some sort of file server). Seems to be a holdover from the early 1990s when Toronto had a very active BBS and warez scene. Synonymous with snarf (sense 2), and contrast snarf (sense 4).

Etymology and Origins

  1. Leech

    The old name for a medical man in the days when bleeding the patient, no matter what his ailment might be, was the common practice.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records

  1. LEECH

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Leech is ranked #6640 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Leech surname appeared 5,099 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 2 would have the surname Leech.

    91.8% or 4,681 total occurrences were White.
    4.1% or 209 total occurrences were Black.
    1.9% or 99 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    1.2% or 65 total occurrences were of two or more races.
    0.6% or 31 total occurrences were Asian.
    0.2% or 14 total occurrences were American Indian or Alaskan Native.

How to pronounce leech?

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  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of leech in Chaldean Numerology is: 3

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of leech in Pythagorean Numerology is: 6

Examples of leech in a Sentence

  1. Woody Harrelson:

    I take a 'friendship tour' pretty much every year, i thought about calling it a 'bender where I leech off my rich friends,' but I thought, 'No, you know — friendship tour, better.’.

  2. Mickey Mehta:

    Choose fulfillment over trophy , don't leech away life always... embrace philanthropy & choose evolution over entropy . Going around is life's nature...let giving be the only culture . Let your giving be maximized , your returns will be optimized and you shall get Mickeymized

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Translations for leech

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"leech." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 27 May 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/leech>.

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