blood·​let·​ting | \ˈbləd-ˌle-tiŋ \

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

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The public bout of political bloodletting gripped the country for days. David Winning, WSJ, "A Battle for the Soul of Conservatism Plays Out in Australia," 24 Aug. 2018 The book, whose cover shows a baby doll with a partially removed scalp, includes depictions of bloodletting. Marisa Gerber,, "'A slow, excruciating, painful death': Graphic novelist convicted in fiancee's grisly 2016 slaying," 20 June 2018 Debris from the attack — the worst single act of bloodletting during the now four-year-old Ukraine war — was strewn over a wide area. Alan Cowell, New York Times, "Russia ‘Accountable’ for Downed Airliner, Australia and Netherlands Say," 25 May 2018 The 'people's issues' After so much bloodletting and squandered opportunity, though, Iraqis have seen their latest demon ISIS largely vanquished, and security and intelligence services rebuilt and increasingly effective. Scott Peterson, The Christian Science Monitor, "In Baghdad, Iraqis embrace return to normalcy, with eye on its fragility," 7 May 2018 Meanwhile, the war grinds on, with no sign that the bloodletting could end anytime soon. David L. Stern, Washington Post, "War in eastern Ukraine now seems a distant storm to Kiev," 26 June 2018 The bloodletting continued overnight, as Taliban fighters killed at least 41 soldiers and police in separate attacks in two provinces, local officials said. Craig Nelson, WSJ, "Taliban Announce First Cease-Fire in Afghanistan," 9 June 2018 Pharoah’s victory was a communal bloodletting that ended 37 years of desperation between Triple Crowns., "What they're saying about Justify's Triple Crown victory," 10 June 2018 Pharoah’s victory was a communal bloodletting that ended 37 years of desperation between Triple Crowns. Tim Layden,, "It's Instinctive to Compare Justify's Triple Crown to American Pharoah's but Both Share Connection to Greatness," 10 June 2018

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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Last Updated

21 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for bloodletting

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

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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 \

Medical Definition of bloodletting 

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More from Merriam-Webster on bloodletting

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bloodletting

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

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