the act or practice of letting blood by opening a vein; phlebotomy.
bloodshed or slaughter.
Informal. severe cutbacks or reduction in personnel, appropriations, etc.: The company went through a period of bloodletting in the 1970s.

1175–1225; Middle English blod letunge. See blood, let1, -ing1

bloodletter, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Word Origin & History

early 13c., blod letunge, from blood + let. Hyphenated from 17c., one word from mid-19c.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

bloodletting blood·let·ting (blŭd'lět'ĭng)
The theropeutic removal of blood, usually from a vein.

blood'let'ter n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Example sentences
The first printed anatomical text, it covered dissection and other topics such
  as bloodletting and urinoscopy.
And the quickest way to remedy was the imbalance was through bloodletting.
It seems keener on blood transfusions than on bloodletting.
But whether his moves are the answer to the bloodletting, and to the
  eight-month labour dispute behind it, is another matter.
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