1. Any animal that sucks blood; esp., the leech (Hirudo medicinalis), and related species.
2. One who sheds blood; a cruel, bloodthirsty man; one guilty of bloodshed; a murderer.
3. A hard and exacting master, landlord, or money lender; an extortioner.
(Irregular plural: leeches).
1. A follower who hangs around in hope of gain or advantage; SYN. minion, parasite, sponge.
2. Carnivorous or bloodsucking aquatic or terrestrial worms typically having a sucker at each end; SYN. bloodsucker, hirudinean.
Annelid worm forming the class Hirudinea. Leeches inhabit fresh water, and in tropical countries infest damp forests. As bloodsucking animals they are injurious to people and animals, to whom they attach themselves by means of a strong mouth adapted to sucking.
Formerly, the medicinal leech Hirudo medicinalis was used extensively for “bleeding” for a variety of ills. It is still cultivated as the source of the anticoagulant hirudin.