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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
Sidney Godfrey was sitting in the passenger seat of a truck slowly cruising over a levee one night in 2018. Freda Kreier, New York Times, 24 Oct. 2023 In a win for the migrant farmworker town of Pajaro on the Central Coast, Newsom signed Assembly Bill 876, which, as The Times’ Susanne Rust noted, would protect the town from floods by speeding up fixes to a levee that failed during spring storms. Sammy Roth, Los Angeles Times, 17 Oct. 2023 The government is working on stopgap solutions—the president declared a state of emergency last week, and the Army Corps of Engineers is installing a levee and expensive desalination machines. Molly Taft, The New Republic, 6 Oct. 2023 The federal government is already struggling to prepare American communities for severe flooding, by funding better storm drains and pumps, building levees and sea walls and elevating roads and other basic infrastructure. Christopher Flavelle, BostonGlobe.com, 11 July 2023 To deal with the subsidence and reduce risks, local flood control districts have had to raise the levees that protect the city of Corcoran. Ian James, Los Angeles Times, 13 Oct. 2023 The barrier, known as a sill, functions similarly to an underwater levee. Denise Chow, NBC News, 26 Sep. 2023 That year, levees throughout the region failed, and 23,000 homes were destroyed. Christopher Cox Spencer Lowell, New York Times, 22 June 2023 As storms hammered California, multiple levees breached and sent water rushing into towns and communities, including the small migrant community of Pajaro. Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times, 4 Oct. 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 28 Nov. 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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