Professional Style

Leach vs. Leech

September 2014
Spot the Error

Ed’s brother-in-law regularly leaches off the government as well as any friend who is employed.

Raise your hand if you knew that leach/leech had two spellings. Not a big deal if you only speak the words; but, if you write them down, you need to know the difference.

Leach means to empty, drain, or remove, typicallly through the percolation of liquid. For example, fertilizer can be leached away by too much rainwater.

A leech, on the other hand, is a bloodsucking, aquatic worm once used by physicians to bleed their ailing patients. When used figuratively, as in the “brother-in-law” sentence above, leech can refer to a person in a parasitic relationship with another: “Ed’s brother-in-law leeches off the government …”

To help you remember, pretend that Ed’s parasitic brother-in-law is named Lee Ching. Lee Ching—leeching—get it? I hear you groaning, but I guarantee you will not forget it now.

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