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[lev-er, lee-ver] /ˈlɛv ər, ˈli vər/
Mechanics. a rigid bar that pivots about one point and that is used to move an object at a second point by a force applied at a third.
Compare machine (def 4b).
a means or agency of persuading or of achieving an end:
Saying that the chairman of the board likes the plan is just a lever to get us to support it.
Horology. the pallet of an escapement.
verb (used with or without object)
to move with or apply a lever:
to lever a rock; to lever mightily and to no avail.
Origin of lever
1250-1300; Middle English levere, levour for *lever < Anglo-French; Old French levier, equivalent to lev(er) to lift (< Latin levāre to lighten, lift, verbal derivative of levis light) + -ier -ier2
Related forms
relever, verb (used with object)


[lee-ver] /ˈli vər/
Charles James ("Cornelius O'Dowd") 1806–72, Irish novelist and essayist. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for lever
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The rudder may also be curved or warped in similar manner by lever action.

    Flying Machines W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell
  • Here's the heap of stone he used as a fulcrum for his lever.

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
  • I don't like the term "reparation," sir, except as a lever in the hands of counsel.

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • Thou art the lever with which Archimedes was to lift the earthly sphere!

    A Hero of Our Time M. Y. Lermontov
  • The bar or lever that is fixed to the top of the rudder-post is called a tiller.

    Boys' Book of Model Boats Raymond Francis Yates
British Dictionary definitions for lever


a rigid bar pivoted about a fulcrum, used to transfer a force to a load and usually to provide a mechanical advantage
any of a number of mechanical devices employing this principle
a means of exerting pressure in order to accomplish something; strategic aid
to prise or move (an object) with a lever
Derived Forms
lever-like, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French leveour, from lever to raise, from Latin levāre, from levis light
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 lever

c.1300, from Old French levier (Modern French leveur) "a lifter, a lever," agent noun from lever "to raise," from Latin levare "to raise," from levis "light" in weight, from PIE root *legwh- "light, having little weight; easy, agile, nimble" (cf. Sanskrit laghuh "quick, small;" Greek elakhys "small," elaphros "light;" Old Church Slavonic liguku, Lithuanian lengvas "light;" Old Irish laigiu "smaller, worse;" Gothic leihts, Old English leoht "light" (adj.)). As a verb, 1856, from the noun.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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lever in Science
A simple machine consisting of a bar that pivots on a fixed support, or fulcrum, and is used to transmit torque. A force applied by pushing down on one end of the lever results in a force pushing up at the other end. If the fulcrum is not positioned in the middle of the lever, then the force applied to one end will not yield the same force on the other, since the torque must be the same on either side of the fulcrum. Levers, like gears, can thus be used to increase the force available from a mechanical power source. See more at fulcrum, See also mechanical advantage.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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