1. the act or practice of letting blood by opening a vein; phlebotomy.
  2. bloodshed or slaughter.
  3. bloodbath.
  4. Informal. severe cutbacks or reduction in personnel, appropriations, etc.: The company went through a period of bloodletting in the 1970s.


  1. the therapeutic removal of blood, as in relieving congestive heart failureSee also phlebotomy
  2. bloodshed, esp in a blood feud

also bloodletting, early 13c., blod letunge, from blood (n.) + let (v.). Hyphenated from 17c., one word from mid-19c. Old English had blodlæte “blood-letting.”


  1. The therapeutic removal of blood, usually from a vein.

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