[lev-er, lee-ver]


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 formsre·lev·er, verb (used with object)




Charles JamesCornelius O'Dowd, 1806–72, Irish novelist and essayist.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for lever

Contemporary Examples of lever

Historical Examples of lever

  • 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 Formslever-like, adjective

Word Origin for lever

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

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

Science definitions for lever



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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.