leech 1 of 2

as in parasite
a person who is supported by or seeks support from another without making an adequate return whenever the gang went out for pizza, the leech in the group always had an excuse for not paying his fair share

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leech

2 of 2

verb

as in to sponge

Synonyms & Similar Words

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How does the noun leech differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of leech are parasite, sponge, sycophant, and toady. While all these words mean "a usually obsequious flatterer or self-seeker," leech stresses persistence in clinging to or bleeding another for one's own advantage.

a leech living off his family and friends

When is parasite a more appropriate choice than leech?

The words parasite and leech are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, parasite applies to one who clings to a person of wealth, power, or influence or is useless to society.

a jet-setter with an entourage of parasites

When can sponge be used instead of leech?

The synonyms sponge and leech are sometimes interchangeable, but sponge stresses the parasitic laziness, dependence, and opportunism of the cadger.

a shiftless sponge, always looking for a handout

In what contexts can sycophant take the place of leech?

The words sycophant and leech can be used in similar contexts, but sycophant adds to this a strong suggestion of fawning, flattery, or adulation.

a powerful prince surrounded by sycophants

When could toady be used to replace leech?

In some situations, the words toady and leech are roughly equivalent. However, toady emphasizes the servility and snobbery of the self-seeker.

cultivated leaders of society and became their toady

Thesaurus Entries Near leech

Cite this Entry

“Leech.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/leech. Accessed 24 May. 2024.

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