- Also called surveyor's level. an instrument for observing levels, having a sighting device, usually telescopic, and capable of being made precisely horizontal.
- an observation made with this instrument.
- spirit level.
verb (used with object), lev·eled, lev·el·ing or (especially British) lev·elled, lev·el·ling.
verb (used without object), lev·eled, lev·el·ing or (especially British) lev·elled, lev·el·ling.
- to take a level.
- to use a leveling instrument.
- Aeronautics. to maintain a constant altitude after a climb or descent.
- to become stable; reach a constant or limit.
- to make even or smooth.
- levari facias,
- level best,
- level compensator,
- level crossing,
- level descriptor,
- level line
Origin of level
verb -els, -elling or -elled or US -els, -eling or -eled
Word Origin for level
early 15c., from level (n.). To do one's level best is from 1851.
mid-15c., "to make level," from level (n.). From c.1600 as "to bring to a level;" 1958 as "to cease increasing." Meaning "to aim a gun" is late 15c. Slang sense of "tell the truth" is from 1920. To level up "to rise" is attested by 1863.
A word here as to the misconception labored under by our English neighbor; he evidently does not understand the American manner of doing things. We never level down in this country; we are always at work on the up grade. "Level up! Level up!" is the motto of the American people. [James E. Garretson, "Professional Education," in "The Dental Cosmos," Philadelphia, 1865]
To level off "cease rising or falling" is from 1920, originally in aviation.
mid-14c., "tool to indicate a horizontal line," from Old French livel "a level" (13c.), ultimately from Latin libella "a balance, level," diminutive of libra "balance, scale, unit of weight," from PIE *lithra. Cognate Spanish nivel, Modern French niveau are from the same source but altered by dissimilation. Meaning "horizontality" is from c.1400. Meaning "position as marked by a horizontal line" is from 1530s. Phrase on the level "fair, honest" is from 1872; earlier it meant "moderate, without great ambition" (1790).
In addition to the idioms beginning with level
- level best
- level off
- level with someone
- do one's (level) best
- on the level