blood·​let·​ting | \ ˈbləd-ˌle-tiŋ How to pronounce bloodletting (audio) \

Definition of bloodletting

2 : bloodshed
3 : elimination of personnel or resources
4 : severe criticism Take the English, the undisputed champions at verbal bloodletting.— Bill Ott : a harsh verbal or written attack But what makes "Cinderella & Company" more than just a book-length bloodletting is Hoelterhoff's unexpected sympathy for most of the singers about whom she writes.— Terry Teachout

Examples of bloodletting in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Facing this electoral bloodletting, the Arizona Republican Party leaped into action. Jon Gabriel, Washington Examiner, "Raising hell in Arizona," 4 Feb. 2021 Douglas painstakingly reconstructs a grittier history, of the region’s ancient wars, invasions, and dynastic bloodletting. Akash Kapur, The New Yorker, "Can We See Past the Myth of the Himalaya?," 18 Jan. 2021 But growing up in a country cracked with bloodletting and barbarity wasn’t the only agony Deng was made to endure as a small girl. Hollie Mckay, Fox News, "'Lost Girl' brought to the US amid Sudan war connects with surviving family member after 30 years," 25 Dec. 2020 Austin will have to calm a Pentagon ship rocked by recent firings and resignations that followed President Trump’s post-election bloodletting. Abraham Mahshie, Washington Examiner, "Biden selects retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary," 7 Dec. 2020 While there were degrees of bloodletting, indiscriminate selling meant nothing was spared. Mellody Hobson And John W. Rogers Jr., WSJ, "How to Understand This Crazy Year in Investing—and What to Do Now," 11 Dec. 2020 The bloodletting in Bosnia, which claimed around 100,000 lives and drove more than two million from their homes, came to an end with the Dayton Accords, reached at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio on Nov. 21, 1995. Andrew Higgins, New York Times, "Under a Divisive Peace, Wartime Rifts Hobble Hope in Bosnia," 20 Nov. 2020 Trump began the bloodletting by firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper last Monday. Abraham Mahshie, Washington Examiner, "Military and security experts fear raft of Trump loyalists at DOD could lead to 'mistakes'," 16 Nov. 2020 Greece, where the Noor One remained docked all this time, was to be the most consequential source of conflict over the deal once the bloodletting started to abate. Alexander Clapp, The New Republic, "The Vampire Ship," 28 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bloodletting.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bloodletting

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of bloodletting was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

18 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bloodletting.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for bloodletting



English Language Learners Definition of bloodletting

: the former practice of taking some blood out of the bodies of sick people to heal them
: the practice of causing someone to bleed as part of a religious ceremony
: the killing of people


blood·​let·​ting | \ -ˌlet-iŋ How to pronounce bloodletting (audio) \

Medical Definition of bloodletting

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Britannica English: Translation of bloodletting for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about bloodletting

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