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See also: Leach



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English leche (leachate; sluggish stream), from Old English *lǣċ, *lǣċe (muddy stream), from Proto-Germanic *lēkijō (a leak, drain, flow) (compare Proto-Germanic *lekaną (to leak, drain)), from Proto-Indo-European *leǵ- (to leak). Cognate with Old English leċċan (to water, moisten), Old English lacu (stream, pool, pond). More at leak, lake.


leach (plural leaches)

  1. A quantity of wood ashes, through which water passes, and thus imbibes the alkali.
  2. A tub or vat for leaching ashes, bark, etc.
    • 1894, Robert Barr, In the Midst of Alarms, ch. 7:
      "This is the leach," said Kitty, pointing to a large, yellowish, upright wooden cylinder, which rested on some slanting boards, down the surface of which ran a brownish liquid that dripped into a trough.
  3. (nautical) Alternative spelling of leech.
  4. A jelly-like sweetmeat popular in the fifteenth century.
    • 1670 Hannah Woolley The Queen-like Closet, Or, Rich Cabinet [1] "To make Leach and to colour it"


Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English *lechen, *lecchen, from Old English leċċan, from Proto-Germanic *lakjaną, from Proto-Indo-European *leǵ- (to leak).


leach (third-person singular simple present leaches, present participle leaching, simple past and past participle leached)

  1. (transitive) To purge a soluble matter out of something by the action of a percolating fluid.
    Heavy rainfall can leach out minerals important for plant growth from the soil.
    • 2014 April 21, Mary Keen, “You can still teach an old gardener new tricks: Even the hardiest of us gardeners occasionally learn useful new techniques [print version: Gardening is always ready to teach even the hardiest of us a few new tricks, 19 April 2014]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Gardening)[2], page G7:
      [T]he very wet winter will have washed much of the goodness out of the soil. Homemade compost and the load of manure we get from a friendly farmer may not be enough to compensate for what has leached from the ground.
  2. (intransitive) To part with soluble constituents by percolation.
Usage notes[edit]

Do not confuse this verb with the verb leech.

Derived terms[edit]