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 The stubby shift lever is as light and accurate as ever, assisted during double-clutch downshifts by quicksilver throttle response. Barry Winfield, Car and Driver, "Tested: 1997 Acura Integra Type R Rewards VTEC Enthusiasts in a Major Way," 21 May 2020 Pulling that lever killed Cage, but also everyone else living in the bunker, including Jasper Jordan’s (Devon Bostick) girlfriend Maya (Eve Harlow), all the Mount Weather inhabitants who had tried to help them, and even the innocent children. 7. Alamin Yohannes, EW.com, "The 12 most twisted moments of The 100 (so far)," 20 May 2020 But decisions that govern how electricity is bought and sold in wholesale markets are made at the federal level, giving Trump’s Republican majority at FERC levers to tip the scales toward fossil fuels. Chris Martin, Bloomberg.com, "Trump Aims for New York in Latest Salvo Against Clean Energy," 12 May 2020 Other levers include humidification and dehumidification, and of course, cleaning products and practices. Mark Fretz, The Conversation, "Buildings have their own microbiomes – we’re striving to make them healthy places," 17 Apr. 2020 Even video game trappings like moving platforms or stone doors held shut by levers seem perfectly in tune with the overgrown world. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Ori and the Will of the Wisps," 12 Mar. 2020 Some analysts and historians think the current coronavirus crisis could fuel a new era of big government in which public officials control more of the levers of the economy, for better or for worse. WSJ, "Coronavirus Updates: Nearly 1.9 Million People Have Been Infected," 13 Apr. 2020 With its firm hand on the levers of Chinese industry, Beijing can corral companies and scientists to reach national goals. New York Times, "China’s Coronavirus Vaccine Drive Empowers a Troubled Industry," 11 Apr. 2020 The 6-foot-5 Vukovich, who projects at this point as a corner infielder with long levers and loads of power, is on every Major League team’s radar. Curt Hogg, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A Wisconsin prospect's future may be altered by Major League Baseball's changes to its annual draft thanks to coronavirus," 27 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Not when there is fear to be exploited, cracks to lever into chasms. John Archibald | Jarchibald@al.com, al, "I thought I’d seen it all. Until Bradley Byrne," 29 Jan. 2020 That the president also levered Christine Lagarde, an economically doveish Frenchwoman, into the presidency of the European Central Bank also helps him. The Economist, "Emmanuel Macron’s long game," 26 Sep. 2019 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

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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Time Traveler for lever

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for lever

Last Updated

27 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Lever.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lever. Accessed 31 May. 2020.

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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

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