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late 14c., "a flowing out of blood;" mid-15c. as "a drawing out of blood;" verbal noun formed after earlier present participle adjective (early 13c.) of bleed. Figurative use is from 1796. As a euphemism for bloody, from 1858. In U.S. history, Bleeding Kansas, in reference to the slavery disputes in that territory 1854-60, is attested from 1856, said to have been first used by the New York "Tribune."
Old English bledan "to let blood," in Middle English and after, "to let blood from surgically;" also "to emit blood," from Proto-Germanic *blodjan "emit blood" (cf. Old Norse blæða, German bluten), from *bhlo-to- "swell, gush, spurt" (see blood (n.)). Meaning "extort money from" is from 1670s. Of dyes or paints, from 1862. Related: Bled; bleeding.
v. bled (blěd), bleed·ing, bleeds
To lose blood as a result of rupture or severance of blood vessels.
To take or remove blood from.
To take someone's money by overcharging or extortion: His creditors bled him to death (1680s+)