From Middle English horseleche, horse leche (“horse doctor; bloodsucker, leech”), equivalent to horse + leech. So called because it commonly attacks the membrane that lines the inside of the mouth and nostrils of animals, such as horses, that drink at pools where it lives.
- (obsolete) A veterinarian for horses.
- A type of sucking worm, Haemopis sanguisuga, larger than the common leech.
- 1621, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy, Oxford: Printed by Iohn Lichfield and Iames Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 216894069; The Anatomy of Melancholy: […], 2nd corrected and augmented edition, Oxford: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, 1624, OCLC 54573970, (please specify |partition=1, 2, or 3):, II.5.1.vi:
- Some use horse-leeches behind the ears, and apply opium to the place.