leech

1 [leech]
noun
1.
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.
2.
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.
3.
Archaic. an instrument used for drawing blood.
verb (used with object)
4.
to apply leeches to, so as to bleed.
5.
to cling to and feed upon or drain, as a leech: His relatives leeched him until his entire fortune was exhausted.
6.
Archaic. to cure; heal.
verb (used without object)
7.
to hang on to a person in the manner of a leech: She leeched on to him for dear life.

Origin:
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

leechlike, adjective


2. bloodsucker; extortioner; sponger.
Dictionary.com Unabridged

leech

2 [leech]
noun Archaic.
a physician.

Origin:
before 1150; Middle English leche, Old English lǣce; cognate with Old Saxon lāki, Old High German lāhhi, Gothic lēkeis; akin to Old Norse lǣknir

leech

3 [leech]
noun Nautical.
1.
either of the lateral edges of a square sail.
2.
the after edge of a fore-and-aft sail.
Also, leach.


Origin:
1480–90; earlier lek, leche, lyche; akin to Dutch lijk leech, Old Norse līk nautical term of uncertain meaning

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
leech1 (liːtʃ)
 
n
1.  horseleech See also medicinal leech 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 animals
2.  a person who clings to or preys on another person
3.  a.  an archaic word for physician
 b.  (in combination): leechcraft
4.  cling like a leech to cling or adhere persistently to something
 
vb
5.  (tr) to use leeches to suck the blood of (a person), as a method of medical treatment
 
[Old English lǣce, lœce; related to Middle Dutch lieke]
 
'leechlike1
 
adj

leech or leach2 (liːtʃ)
 
n
nautical the after edge of a fore-and-aft sail or either of the vertical edges of a squaresail
 
[C15: of Germanic origin; compare Dutch lijk]
 
leach or leach2
 
n
 
[C15: of Germanic origin; compare Dutch lijk]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

leech
"bloodsucking aquatic worm," from O.E. læce (Kentish lyce), of unknown origin (with a cognate in M.Du. lake). Commonly regarded as a transf. use of leech (2), but the O.E. forms suggest a distinct word, which has been assimilated to leech (2) by folk etymology. Figuratively
applied to human parasites since 1784.

leech
obsolete for "physician," from O.E. læce, from O.Dan. læke, from P.Gmc. *lælijaz "healer, physician" (cf. O.N. læknir, O.H.G. lahhi, Goth. lekeis "physician"), lit. "one who counsels," perhaps connected with a root found in Celt. (cf. Ir. liaig "charmer, exorcist, physician")
and/or Slavic (cf. Serbo-Croatian lijekar), with an original sense of "speak, talk, whisper, conjurer." The form and sense merged with leech (1) in M.E. by folk etymology. In 17c., leech usually was applied only to veterinary practitioners. The third finger of the hand, in O.E., was læcfinger, translating L. digitus medicus, Gk. daktylus iatrikos, supposedly because a vein from that finger stretches straight to the heart.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

leech 1 (lēch)
n.
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. v. leeched, leech·ing, leech·es
To bleed with leeches.

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

leech

n. 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.
Example sentences
In fact, such so-called medicinal leeches are standard tools for preventing
  blood clotting after reconstructive surgery.
Geothermal heat leeches mineral solutions from encasing rocks.
The concept is intriguing considering how leeches can drain wounds and release
  a compound that accelerates healing.
Levying new taxes on individuals and corporations during a downturn is the same
  as using leeches to heal viruses.
Synonyms
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