1 [lev-ee]
an embankment designed to prevent the flooding of a river.
Geology, natural levee.
Agriculture. one of the small continuous ridges surrounding fields that are to be irrigated.
History/Historical. a landing place for ships; quay.
verb (used with object), leveed, leveeing.
to furnish with a levee: to levee a treacherous stream.

1710–20, Americanism; < French levée < Medieval Latin levāta embankment, noun use of feminine past participle of Latin levāre to raise, orig. lighten, akin to levis light, not heavy

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2 [lev-ee, le-vee]
(in Great Britain) a public court assembly, held in the early afternoon, at which men only are received.
a reception, usually in someone's honor: a presidential levee at the White House.
History/Historical. a reception of visitors held on rising from bed, as formerly by a royal or other personage.

1665–75; < French levé, variant spelling of lever rising (noun use of infinitive) < Latin levāre to raise; see levee1

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
levee1 (ˈlɛvɪ)
1.  an embankment alongside a river, produced naturally by sedimentation or constructed by man to prevent flooding
2.  an embankment that surrounds a field that is to be irrigated
3.  a landing place on a river; quay
[C18: from French, from Medieval Latin levāta, from Latin levāre to raise]

levee2 (ˈlɛvɪ, ˈlɛveɪ)
1.  a formal reception held by a sovereign just after rising from bed
2.  (in Britain) a public court reception for men, held in the early afternoon
[C17: from French, variant of lever a rising, from Latin levāre to raise]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1719, "natural or artificial embankment to prevent overflow of a river," from New Orleans Fr. levée "raising, lifting, embankment," from Fr., originally fem. pp. of lever "to raise," from L. levare "to raise" (see lever). In an earlier sense borrowed from the lit. Fr.
meaning, it was used for "morning assembly held by a prince or king (upon rising from bed)," 1672.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
levee   (lěv'ē)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. A long ridge of sand, silt, and clay built up by a river along its banks, especially during floods.

  2. An artificial embankment along a rivercourse or an arm of the sea, built to protect adjoining land from inundation.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Authorities were carefully watching levees set up around some communities to
  hold back floodwaters.
Fertilizer runoff can be recaptured by diverting a portion of river water into
  settling ponds or marshland behind levees.
No one is sure how long it will take to pump out floodwaters once the levees
  are repaired.
When a city floods, humans stack sandbags and raise levees.
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