There are 3 main definitions of leech in English:

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leech1

Line breaks: leech
Pronunciation: /liːtʃ
 
/

noun

1An aquatic or terrestrial annelid worm with suckers at both ends. Many species are bloodsucking parasites, especially of vertebrates, and others are predators.
Example sentences
  • The rhynchobdellids are strictly aquatic leeches that have small, porelike mouths in the oral sucker.
  • While at rest, the medicinal leech lies under large objects on the shoreline, partially out of water.
  • It's a bit of a shame, especially as the leeches used for therapy sessions aren't your average leeches.
2A person who extorts profit from or sponges on others: they are leeches feeding off the hard-working majority
More example sentences
  • 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.
Synonyms
parasite, clinger, barnacle, bloodsucker, cadger, passenger, layabout;
sycophant, toady, hanger-on, fawner, yes man
North American informal mooch, moocher

verb

[no object] (leech on/off) Back to top  
Habitually exploit or rely on: he’s leeching off the abilities of others
More example sentences
  • Those people who operate these servers… are parasites leeching off the creativity of others.
  • The main limitation I see is that society would not work if everyone leeched off it in this way.
  • If you want to leech off someone's Wi-fi to download the update, drive by my house and leech off mine.

Origin

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

More
  • physician from (Middle English):

    The Old English word for a medical doctor was leech (despite popular belief, nothing to do with the worm, but a word meaning ‘a healer’). Physician arrived in the early Middle Ages, and goes back to Greek phusis ‘nature’, the root also of physical (Late Middle English), physics (Late Middle English), and numerous other English words. A doctor (Middle English) was originally not a physician but any learned person able to give an authoritative opinion, especially one of the early Christian theologians. The word started referring specifically to a medical expert at the start of the 15th century. It comes from doctor, the Latin for ‘teacher’, also found in words such as docile (Late Middle English) ‘willing to learn’; document (Late Middle English) ‘official paper, proof’; and doctrine (Late Middle English), originally the action of teaching.

Phrases

like a leech

1
Very closely and persistently: you’ve been clinging to me like a leech all these months
More example sentences
  • 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.

Definition of leech in:

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There are 3 main definitions of leech in English:

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leech2

Line breaks: leech
Pronunciation: /liːtʃ
 
/

noun

archaic

Origin

Old English lǣce, of Germanic origin.

More
  • physician from (Middle English):

    The Old English word for a medical doctor was leech (despite popular belief, nothing to do with the worm, but a word meaning ‘a healer’). Physician arrived in the early Middle Ages, and goes back to Greek phusis ‘nature’, the root also of physical (Late Middle English), physics (Late Middle English), and numerous other English words. A doctor (Middle English) was originally not a physician but any learned person able to give an authoritative opinion, especially one of the early Christian theologians. The word started referring specifically to a medical expert at the start of the 15th century. It comes from doctor, the Latin for ‘teacher’, also found in words such as docile (Late Middle English) ‘willing to learn’; document (Late Middle English) ‘official paper, proof’; and doctrine (Late Middle English), originally the action of teaching.

Definition of leech in:

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There are 3 main definitions of leech in English:

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leech3

Line breaks: leech
Pronunciation: /liːtʃ
 
/

noun

Sailing

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.

More
  • physician from (Middle English):

    The Old English word for a medical doctor was leech (despite popular belief, nothing to do with the worm, but a word meaning ‘a healer’). Physician arrived in the early Middle Ages, and goes back to Greek phusis ‘nature’, the root also of physical (Late Middle English), physics (Late Middle English), and numerous other English words. A doctor (Middle English) was originally not a physician but any learned person able to give an authoritative opinion, especially one of the early Christian theologians. The word started referring specifically to a medical expert at the start of the 15th century. It comes from doctor, the Latin for ‘teacher’, also found in words such as docile (Late Middle English) ‘willing to learn’; document (Late Middle English) ‘official paper, proof’; and doctrine (Late Middle English), originally the action of teaching.

Definition of leech in:

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