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

Dictionary.com Unabridged


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

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To levee
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
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
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
Cite This Source
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.
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Britannica


any low ridge or earthen embankment built along the edges of a stream or river channel to prevent flooding of the adjacent land. Artificial levees are typically needed to control the flow of rivers meandering through broad, flat floodplains. Levees are usually embankments of dirt built wide enough so that they will not collapse or be eroded when saturated with moisture from rivers running at unusually high levels. Grass or some other matlike vegetation is planted on the top of the levee's bank so that its erosion will be kept to a minimum.

Learn more about levee with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
The day on the levee had more a sense of détente than of harmony.
Explore this interactive map and ten signs of trouble for the levee system.
It could have addressed levee failure, which probably puts more people at risk
  of flooding each year than dam failure.
In the upper portions of the city the levee is low, but is able to hold three
  feet more water.
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature