[lev-uh l-awf, -of]

noun Aeronautics.

the maneuver of bringing an aircraft into a horizontal flying position after an ascent or descent.

Nearby words

  1. level off,
  2. level pegging,
  3. level playing field,
  4. level with someone,
  5. level-headed,
  6. leveler,
  7. levelers,
  8. levelheaded,
  9. leveling,
  10. leveling instrument

Origin of level-off

First recorded in 1925–30; noun use of verb phrase level off




having no part higher than another; having a flat or even surface.
being in a plane parallel to the plane of the horizon; horizontal.
equal, as one thing with another or two or more things with one another.
even, equable, or uniform.
filled to a height even with the rim of a container: a level teaspoon of salt.
mentally well-balanced; sensible; rational: to keep a level head in a crisis.


a device used for determining or adjusting something to a horizontal surface.
  1. Also called surveyor's level.an instrument for observing levels, having a sighting device, usually telescopic, and capable of being made precisely horizontal.
  2. an observation made with this instrument.
  3. spirit level.
an imaginary line or surface everywhere at right angles to the plumb line.
the horizontal line or plane in which anything is situated, with regard to its elevation.
a horizontal position or condition.
an extent of land approximately horizontal and unbroken by irregularities.
a level or flat surface.
a position with respect to a given or specified height: The water rose to a level of 30 feet.
a position or plane in a graded scale of values; status; rank: His acting was on the level of an amateur. They associated only with those on their own economic level.
an extent, measure, or degree of intensity, achievement, etc.: a high level of sound; an average level of writing skill.
Linguistics. a major subdivision of linguistic structure, as phonology, morphology, or syntax, often viewed as hierarchically ordered.Compare component(def 6a), stratum(def 8).
Mining. the interconnected horizontal mine workings at a particular elevation or depth: There had been a cave-in on the 1500-foot level.

verb (used with object), lev·eled, lev·el·ing or (especially British) lev·elled, lev·el·ling.

to make (a surface) level, even, or flat: to level ground before building.
to raise or lower to a particular level or position; to make horizontal.
to bring (something) to the level of the ground: They leveled the trees to make way for the new highway.
Informal. to knock down (a person): He leveled his opponent with one blow.
to make equal, as in status or condition.
to make even or uniform, as coloring.
Historical Linguistics. (of the alternative forms of a paradigm) to reduce in number or regularize: Old English “him” (dative) and “hine” (accusative) have been leveled to Modern English “him.”
to aim or point (a weapon, criticism, etc.) at a mark or objective: He leveled his criticism at the college as a whole.
Surveying. to find the relative elevation of different points in (land), as with a level.

verb (used without object), lev·eled, lev·el·ing or (especially British) lev·elled, lev·el·ling.

to bring things or persons to a common level.
to aim a weapon, criticism, etc., at a mark or objective.
  1. to take a level.
  2. to use a leveling instrument.
to speak truthfully and openly (often followed by with): You're not leveling with me about your trip to Chicago.
Obsolete. to direct the mind, purpose, etc., at something.


Obsolete. in a level, direct, or even way or line.

Verb Phrases

level off,
  1. Aeronautics.to maintain a constant altitude after a climb or descent.
  2. to become stable; reach a constant or limit.
  3. to make even or smooth.

Origin of level

1300–50; Middle English (noun and v.), variant of livel (noun) < Middle French < Vulgar Latin *lībellum, for Latin lībella plummet line, level, diminutive of lībra balance, scales; for formation, see castellum

1, 2. flush. Level, even, flat, smooth suggest a uniform surface without marked unevenness. That which is level is parallel to the horizon: a level surface; A billiard table must be level. Flat is applied to any plane surface free from marked irregularities: a flat roof. With reference to land or country, flat connotes lowness or unattractiveness; level does not suggest anything derogatory. That which is even is free from irregularities, though not necessarily level or plane: an even land surface with no hills. Smooth suggests a high degree of evenness in any surface, especially to the touch and sometimes to the sight: as smooth as silk. 19. smooth, flatten. 21. raze, demolish, destroy. 23. equalize. 26. direct.

Related forms
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for level off



on a horizontal plane
having a surface of completely equal height
being of the same height as something else
(of quantities to be measured, as in recipes) even with the top of the cup, spoon, etc
equal to or even with (something or someone else)
not having or showing inconsistency or irregularities
Also: level-headed even-tempered; steady

verb -els, -elling or -elled or US -els, -eling or -eled

(tr sometimes foll by off) to make (a surface) horizontal, level, or even
to make (two or more people or things) equal, as in position or status
(tr) to raze to the ground
(tr) to knock (a person) down by or as if by a blow
(tr) to direct (a gaze, criticism, etc) emphatically at someone
(intr often foll by with) informal to be straightforward and frank
(intr; foll by off or out) to manoeuvre an aircraft into a horizontal flight path after a dive, climb, or glide
(often foll by at) to aim (a weapon) horizontally
surveying to determine the elevation of a section of (land), sighting through a levelling instrument to a staff at successive pairs or points


a horizontal datum line or plane
a device, such as a spirit level, for determining whether a surface is horizontal
a surveying instrument consisting basically of a telescope with a spirit level attached, used for measuring relative heights of landSee Abney level, dumpy level
a reading of the difference in elevation of two points taken with such an instrument
position or status in a scale of values
amount or degree of progress; stage
a specified vertical position; altitude
a horizontal line or plane with respect to which measurement of elevation is basedsea level
a flat even surface or area of land
a horizontal passage or drift in a mine
any of the successive layers of material that have been deposited with the passage of time to build up and raise the height of the land surface
physics the ratio of the magnitude of a physical quantity to an arbitrary magnitudesound-pressure level
do one's level best to make every possible effort; try one's utmost
find one's level to find one's most suitable place socially, professionally, etc
on a level on the same horizontal plane as another
on the level informal sincere, honest, or genuine
Derived Formslevelly, adverblevelness, noun

Word Origin for level

C14: from Old French livel, from Vulgar Latin lībellum (unattested), from Latin lībella, diminutive of lībra scales

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 level off
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for level off




Relative position or rank on a graded scale, such as mental or emotional development.
A relative degree, as of intensity or concentration.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with level off

level off

Move toward stability or consistency, as in Prices have leveled off. This idiom transfers a physical flattening to a figurative one. [Mid-1900s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with level

  • level best
  • level off
  • level with someone

also see:

  • do one's (level) best
  • on the level
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.