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noun (1)

le·​vee ˈle-vē How to pronounce levee (audio)
: a reception held by a person of distinction on rising from bed
: an afternoon assembly at which the British sovereign or his or her representative receives only men
: a reception usually in honor of a particular person
the years of levees and parades and other suave peacetime occasionsGladys B. Stern


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noun (2)

lev·​ee ˈle-vē How to pronounce levee (audio)
: an embankment for preventing flooding
: a river landing place : pier
: a continuous dike or ridge (as of earth) for confining the irrigation areas of land to be flooded


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lev·​ee ˈle-vē How to pronounce levee (audio)
leveed; leveeing

transitive verb

: to provide with a levee

Examples of levee in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
And farmers just beyond the levees, their grain ripening in the field as both harvest and rising freight costs loomed. USA TODAY, 10 Sep. 2023 People think, Someone must have blown up the levee, because people are getting so rich off of all of this. Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker, 10 Sep. 2023 For years, little was done to improve the structure, even though federal, state and local governments knew the levee was at risk of breaching. Susanne Rust, Los Angeles Times, 31 Aug. 2023 Norris once again started the fourth with an out, but then the levee broke. Paul Hoynes, cleveland, 29 Aug. 2023 The bodies of three motorists were found in floodwaters near where levees breached in the Sacramento County area; a man was killed by a falling tree at a Santa Cruz beach; and another man’s body was found in an overflowing creek in San Jose. Rong-Gong Lin Ii, Los Angeles Times, 5 Sep. 2023 Meanwhile, a coalition of ecologists, landscape architects, architects, and engineers known as Imagine the Wall is proposing to improve an existing Army Corps plan with green defenses like tidal wetlands and oyster reefs, along with levees, elevated roads, and strategically placed battery walls. Geoff Dembicki, The New Republic, 2 Aug. 2023 In the town of Pajaro alone, a breached levee put hundreds of acres of strawberries under water. Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle, 9 May 2023 The Justice Department officials say Texas also failed to get permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages reservoirs and levees along the river channel. Nick Miroff, Washington Post, 21 July 2023
The state will shoulder the $17 million needed to raise the 14.5-mile Corcoran levee an additional four feet, protecting the city from rising floodwaters. Elvia Limón, Los Angeles Times, 13 May 2023 The joint state-federal Flood Operations Center, which has been activated since early March, is also continuing to respond to levee concerns along the San Joaquin River and its tributaries, said Arrich, of water resources department. Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times, 5 Apr. 2023 That will slightly reduce the flow out of the river, but work to build up the wall to levee height is expected to take one to two weeks, Monterey County said. Phil Helsel, NBC News, 15 Mar. 2023 Not to federal officials who decades ago flagged the Pajaro River earthen levee as needing repair. Nora Mishanec, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 Mar. 2023 At its meeting on March 1, the council voted in favor of the proposal, which would enable town staff to more quickly levee the fines, avoiding the current process which requires multiple complaints, and judicial actions that sometimes take months. Steve Smith, courant.com, 19 Mar. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'levee.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (1)

French lever, from Middle French, act of arising, from (se) lever to rise

Noun (2)

French levée, from Old French, act of raising, from lever to raise — more at lever

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1672, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

circa 1720, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1832, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of levee was in 1672

Dictionary Entries Near levee

Cite this Entry

“Levee.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/levee. Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a bank built along a river to prevent flooding
: a landing place along a river

More from Merriam-Webster on levee

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