Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Apr 28 14:05:53 UTC 2013

On Apr 28, 2013, at 9:53 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> At 4/28/2013 09:06 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> --LH, who recently survived a series of phlebotomy (bloodletting)
>> treatments that no longer involve leeches per se
> You're excluding the doctors, of course.
> Joel

Right--in fact getting back to the etymology as described in the OED, the name for the aquatic blood-sucking worm either originated as a transfer from "leech" 'physician' or altered (from a different, unknown source) through confusion with the latter.  I see that there's also a well-attested figurative use of "leech" (OED leech, n. 1, sense 1b): 'Applied often to God and Christ, and spiritual persons'  as in Chaucer's "God that is oure lyues leche."   An updated entry might want to indicate this application seems to have become obsolete.


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