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[leech] /litʃ/
verb (used with object)
to dissolve out soluble constituents from (ashes, soil, etc.) by percolation.
to cause (water or other liquid) to percolate through something.
verb (used without object)
(of ashes, soil, etc.) to undergo the action of percolating water.
to percolate, as water.
the act or process of leaching.
a product or solution obtained by leaching; leachate.
the material leached.
a vessel for use in leaching.
Origin of leach1
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English leche leachate, infusion, probably Old English *læc(e), *lec(e), akin to leccan to wet, moisten, causative of leak
Related forms
leachable, adjective
leachability, noun
leacher, noun
unleached, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for leaching
Contemporary Examples
  • I submit that a regular program of interaction would go miles in leaching partisan poison from the well in Washington.

    Grill Him Again! Mark McKinnon February 2, 2010
Historical Examples
  • The disadvantage of such soils is that they lose their fertility by leaching.

    The Dollar Hen Milo M. Hastings
  • One cause that appears obvious and easy of acceptance is leaching.

  • We noticed that water poured on the sand ran through it very quickly and was apt to be lost by leaching or percolation.

    The First Book of Farming Charles L. Goodrich
  • This leaching process concentrates these minerals as ore that can be mined.

    Deserts A. S. Walker
  • Whichever method be used, the first essential is the most suitable means of leaching the materials, or extracting the tannin.

    Leather K. J. Adcock
  • There is no waste from leaching, as when the manure lies exposed to the weather.

    Economy of the Round Dairy Barn Wilber John Fraser
  • All leaching is then received by the soil, and little is lost, except through the air.

  • It has two Parts: one on the acquisition of knowledge; the other on Communication or leaching.

    Practical Essays Alexander Bain
  • They should always be covered with a crop to prevent loss of plant food by leaching.

    The First Book of Farming Charles L. Goodrich
British Dictionary definitions for leaching


to remove or be removed from a substance by a percolating liquid
to lose or cause to lose soluble substances by the action of a percolating liquid
another word for percolate (sense 1), percolate (sense 2)
the act or process of leaching
a substance that is leached or the constituents removed by leaching
a porous vessel for leaching
Derived Forms
leacher, noun
Word Origin
C17: variant of obsolete letch to wet, perhaps from Old English leccan to water; related to leak


a variant spelling of leech2


Bernard (Howell). 1887–1979, British potter, born in Hong Kong
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for leaching



Old English leccan "to moisten, water, wet, irrigate," (see leak). The word disappears, then re-emerges late 18c. in a technological sense in reference to percolating liquids. Related: Leached; leaching.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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leaching in Medicine

leaching leach·ing (lē'chĭng)
See lixiviation.

leach v.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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leaching in Science
The removal of soluble material from a substance, such as soil or rock, through the percolation of water. Organic matter is typically removed from a soil horizon and soluble metals or salts from a rock by leaching. Leaching differs from eluviation in that it affects soluble, not suspended, material and often results in the complete removal of the material from the soil or rock.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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