le·​ver | \ ˈle-vər How to pronounce lever (audio) , ˈlē- How to pronounce lever (audio) \

Definition of lever

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a bar used for prying or dislodging something
b : an inducing or compelling force : tool use food as a political leverTime
2a : a rigid piece that transmits and modifies force or motion when forces are applied at two points and it turns about a third specifically : a rigid bar used to exert a pressure or sustain a weight at one point of its length by the application of a force at a second and turning at a third on a fulcrum
b : a projecting piece by which a mechanism (see mechanism sense 1) is operated or adjusted


levered; levering\ ˈle-​və-​riŋ How to pronounce levering (audio) , ˈlē-​ ; ˈlev-​riŋ , ˈlēv-​ \

Definition of lever (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to pry, raise, or move with or as if with a lever
2 : to operate (a device) in the manner of a lever

Illustration of lever

Illustration of lever


lever 2a

In the meaning defined above

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Synonyms for lever

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of lever in a Sentence

Noun They used their money as a lever to gain political power. Verb He levered the rock out of the hole. the workers used crowbars to lever the heavy stone block into its new position
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Here are five key takeaways from Election Day 2019: The Democrats' sweep of Virginia is significant For the first time in nearly a generation, all the levers of power in the Old Dominion are in the hands of Democrats. Ledyard King, USA TODAY, "Election takeaways: What we learned from Kentucky, Virginia, and Mississippi," 6 Nov. 2019 In the event of a catastrophic mechanical failure, someone inside the airplane can pull a lever in the ceiling. Peter Valdes-dapena, CNN, "A safer way to fly? New technology enables a plane to land itself," 1 Nov. 2019 The main lever the Fed has is interest rates, which are sitting at a level that most economists think is about neutral, meaning they neither stimulates nor contract the economy. Washington Post, "‘It doesn’t feel like a boom yet’: Many Americans urge the Federal Reserve to boost the economy," 29 Oct. 2019 The most powerful lever, or propelling cause was the Manumission Society. Richard Brookhiser, National Review, "The New York Manumission Society," 24 Oct. 2019 And the key insight of the antismoking activism of the last century was that the most accessible levers of power were also the most effective. Sarah Milov, Time, "How the Vaping Industry Is Using a Defensive Tactic Pioneered Decades Ago by Big Tobacco," 2 Oct. 2019 The primary lever is reorienting public safety-net spending around poor children. The Economist, "ChildrenPoverty in America has long-lasting, destructive consequences on children," 26 Sep. 2019 Hence, the rodent’s most studied food-getting response, lever pressing, is virtually impossible to investigate in the frightened rat. Dean Mobbs, Scientific American, "On the Nature of Fear," 20 Sep. 2019 Or if all else fails there’s the Illuminati, or there’s somebody pulling the levers. Samantha Leach, Glamour, "Adam Brody on Dating Fails, Romance, and Why He and Leighton Meester Are 'Big Hand Holders'," 23 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The project involves replacing the door knobs and associated hardware of all the classroom doors with levered handles that can be locked from the inside, according to Don Aicardi, the school district’s director of finance and operations. BostonGlobe.com, "Medway elementary school upgrades safety with new grant - The Boston Globe," 6 Nov. 2019 The next morning, a dentist levered my teeth back into place with a tongue depressor and cemented them in line. Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, "My Year of Concussions," 4 Nov. 2019 Everyone could borrow to trade, levering up as much as 10-to-1. Washington Post, "Relax. China Only Wants a Bull Market, Not a Mad Cow," 18 Sep. 2019 If the tactic of threatening no-deal to lever concessions out of the EU has failed, so have attempts to bully MPs. The Economist, "A tumultuous week for Boris Johnson suggests an election is on the cards," 5 Sep. 2019 The grooves could have allowed the builders to lower the stones onto the walls, roll them into place using rollers, lever them up to remove the rollers, then extract the ropes from under the blocks without lifting them back up. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "The Ancient Greeks Used Machines to Lift Stones 150 Years Earlier Than Previously Believed," 29 Aug. 2019 Some analysts have expressed concern that shrinking revenue, modest earnings growth and a ballooning balance sheet could cause the company to lever up too quickly for the next deal. Kimberly Chin, WSJ, "Kraft Heinz Write-Downs Raise Doubts About Its Future Path," 22 Feb. 2019 What was once the domain of a handful of big players like AerCap and GE Capital Aviation Services, levering insider knowledge of planes and airlines, is now a patchwork of 20 or so smaller lessors trading similar aircraft at ever lower margins. Jon Sindreu, WSJ, "Aircraft Investors Should Be More Grounded," 25 Jan. 2019 Were it to lever up to two times Ebitda, Altria could spend another $6 billion on top of its Cronos investment without upsetting investors. Carol Ryan, WSJ, "Marijuana Won’t Keep Marlboro Man Buzzing," 7 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lever.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of lever


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1876, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for lever

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French levier, lever, from lever to raise, from Latin levare, from levis light in weight — more at light

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Statistics for lever

Last Updated

12 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for lever

The first known use of lever was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for lever


How to pronounce lever (audio) How to pronounce lever (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of lever

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a strong bar that is used to lift and move something heavy
: a bar or rod that is used to operate or adjust something on a machine, vehicle, device, etc.
: something used to achieve a desired result



English Language Learners Definition of lever (Entry 2 of 2)

: to lift or move (something) with a lever


le·​ver | \ ˈle-vər How to pronounce lever (audio) , ˈlē-\

Kids Definition of lever

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a bar used to pry or move something
2 : a stiff bar for lifting a weight at one point of its length by pressing or pulling at a second point while the bar turns on a support
3 : a bar or rod used to run or adjust something a gearshift lever


levered; levering

Kids Definition of lever (Entry 2 of 2)

: to raise or move with a bar

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More from Merriam-Webster on lever

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lever

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lever

Spanish Central: Translation of lever

Nglish: Translation of lever for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lever for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about lever

Comments on lever

What made you want to look up lever? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not being in agreement or harmony

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