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[lev-ee] /ˈlɛv i/
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.
Origin of levee1
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
Can be confused
levee, levy.


[lev-ee, le-vee] /ˈlɛv i, lɛˈvi/
(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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for levee
  • 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.
  • The city is gradually sinking lower below sea level and becoming more dependent on its extensive levee system to keep water out.
  • In the wake of the catastrophe, other communities may need to reevaluate their own levee protections.
  • Coastal communities, many protected by small levee systems, already feel the brunt.
  • The fragile, worn-out levee system threatens to give way and cause catastrophic flooding if it is not upgraded soon.
  • Also called levee or floodgate storm surge: noun: abnormal rise in sea level accompanying a hurricane or other intense storm.
  • It's also a levee bottling up a torrent of content that can be sold and delivered over those devices.
British Dictionary definitions for levee


noun (US)
an embankment alongside a river, produced naturally by sedimentation or constructed by man to prevent flooding
an embankment that surrounds a field that is to be irrigated
a landing place on a river; quay
Word Origin
C18: from French, from Medieval Latin levāta, from Latin levāre to raise


/ˈlɛvɪ; ˈlɛveɪ/
a formal reception held by a sovereign just after rising from bed
(in Britain) a public court reception for men, held in the early afternoon
Word Origin
C17: from French, variant of lever a rising, from Latin levāre to raise
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for levee

1719, "natural or artificial embankment to prevent overflow of a river," from New Orleans French levée "raising, lifting; embankment," from French, originally fem. past participle of lever "to raise," from Latin levare "to raise" (see lever).

"morning assembly held by a prince or king (upon rising from bed)," 1670s, from French lever "a raising," noun use of verb meaning "to raise" (see levee (n.1)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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levee in Science
  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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