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  1. an embankment designed to prevent the flooding of a river.
  2. Geology. natural levee.
  3. Agriculture. one of the small continuous ridges surrounding fields that are to be irrigated.
  4. History/Historical. a landing place for ships; quay.
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verb (used with object), lev·eed, lev·ee·ing.
  1. to furnish with a levee: to levee a treacherous stream.
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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 confusedlevee levy


[lev-ee, le-vee]
  1. (in Great Britain) a public court assembly, held in the early afternoon, at which men only are received.
  2. a reception, usually in someone's honor: a presidential levee at the White House.
  3. History/Historical. a reception of visitors held on rising from bed, as formerly by a royal or other personage.
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Origin of levee2

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for levee


noun US
  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
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Word Origin

C18: from French, from Medieval Latin levāta, from Latin levāre to raise


  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
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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

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).

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"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)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.