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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)).
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.