less common spelling of

1 : either vertical edge of a square sail
2 : the after edge of a fore-and-aft sail


\ ˈlēch How to pronounce leach (audio) \
leached; leaching; leaches

Definition of leach (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to dissolve out by the action of a percolating liquid leach out alkali from ashes
2 : to subject to the action of percolating (see percolate sense 1a) liquid (such as water) in order to separate the soluble components
3a : to remove (nutritive or harmful elements) from soil by percolation (see percolate sense 1a) soil leached of its salts by torrential rains
b : to draw out or remove as if by percolation all meaning has been leached from my life

intransitive verb

: to pass out or through by percolation Nutrients leached out of the soil with rainwater.

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Other Words from leach


leachability \ ˌlē-​chə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce leachability (audio) \ noun
leachable \ ˈlē-​chə-​bəl How to pronounce leachable (audio) \ adjective
leacher noun

Examples of leach in a Sentence


Even a small amount of rain can leach the toxic material from the soil. Certain kinds of treated wood can leach chemicals into the soil. The chemical eventually leaches away from the soil.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The corrosive water was not properly treated due to an incorrect reading of federal rules by state regulators, and lead leached from old pipes into homes and led to elevated levels of the toxin in children. David Eggert, The Seattle Times, "2 Michigan regulators take plea deals in Flint water case," 26 Dec. 2018 Environmentalists say remnants of the solvents could go into the air, be eaten by wildlife and leach into groundwater. Clifford Krauss, The Seattle Times, "Canadian firm tests new process to turn Utah sands into oil," 27 Aug. 2018 Other heavy metals, such as copper, have been leaching into the water as the surrounding pipes corrode. Molly Rauch, Good Housekeeping, "When Your Water Poisons Your Children," 16 Feb. 2016 Flint residents were exposed to high levels of lead after the city, under control of a series of emergency managers, switched its water source in 2014 without properly treating it, allowing lead to leach from aging service lines. Kris Maher, WSJ, "EPA Report Faults Response to Flint Water Crisis," 19 July 2018 That additional acidity can leach calcium from the corals, making them brittle and unable to grow. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "How Things Got So Bad for the Great Barrier Reef," 25 Oct. 2018 But the fat-loving compounds are still hanging around, leaching into the environment from decades-old equipment, and lingering in the ocean food chain. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "A decades-old pollutant is still threatening orca populations," 28 Sep. 2018 Lead leached from old pipes after the city began using the Flint River in 2014 without adding corrosion-control chemicals. Frank Miles, Fox News, "Indiana brewery dumps plan to give beers names like ‘Black Beers Matter’ and ‘White Guilt’," 19 July 2018 This caused lead and other metals to leach into the water, exposing residents and risking permanent neurological damage to local children. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Flint water crisis: Michigan health director ordered to manslaughter trial," 21 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'leach.' 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 leach


1796, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for leach


leach vessel through which water is passed to extract lye

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Dictionary Entries near leach



Lea's oak


Leach's petrel


leach house

Statistics for leach

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Time Traveler for leach

The first known use of leach was in 1796

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More Definitions for leach



English Language Learners Definition of leach

: to remove (a chemical, a metal, etc.) from a substance by the action of a liquid passing through the substance : to release (a chemical, a metal, etc.) when a liquid passes through
of a chemical, a metal, etc. : to be removed from a substance by a liquid passing through the substance


leached; leaching

Kids Definition of leach

: to remove or remove from by the action of a liquid passing through a substance Water leaches minerals from soil. The soil was leached by the constant rain.
\ ˈlēch How to pronounce leach (audio) \

Medical Definition of leach

1 : to subject to the action of percolating liquid (as water) in order to separate the soluble components
2 : to dissolve out by the action of a percolating liquid

intransitive verb

: to pass out or through by percolation

Other Words from leach

leachability \ ˌlē-​chə-​ˈbil-​ət-​ē How to pronounce leachability (audio) \ noun, plural -ties
leachable \ ˈlē-​chə-​bəl How to pronounce leachable (audio) \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on leach

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with leach

Spanish Central: Translation of leach

Nglish: Translation of leach for Spanish Speakers

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