No, this isn’t a form of torture or surgical term, it’s actually a printing term that can greatly impact your final product. If you’re printing an image that goes to the very edge(s) of your document, you should at least be aware of this term. It will come in handy as you prepare your file for your printer.
By the way, the Printing Industry Exchange’s online glossary is a great resource, and will help you understand the basics.
What is a Bleed?:
This is the term used when you’re printing images or colors that extend to the edge of a page after it’s been trimmed to size.
What do I need to know?:
If you know you’ll want color or images to “bleed” off your printed piece, your document will have a “live area” and a “trim area”. The “live area” will be visible on your final piece, and the “trim area” will literally be trimmed off by the printer after your piece is printed.
In most design applications (i.e. InDesign) you’ll indicate the amount of bleed or trim in the file preferences or document setup. It may be a good idea to discuss the details with your printer before you start your design.
We found a great “quick guide” on preparing your files for print by CIARA PANACCHIA at Design Instruct.