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 lever (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

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
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun All these aspects are important, but knowing when to pull the right lever is difficult. Sherry Taylor, Forbes, 15 July 2022 Russia has used its gas exports to Europe as a lever to exert pressure on the European Union. Somini Sengupta, BostonGlobe.com, 6 July 2022 Lawmakers insist that the United States could still use the prospect of a trade deal as a lever with Britain on Northern Ireland, given that the administration is exploring a similar deal with the European Union. Mark Landler, New York Times, 20 May 2022 None of this is consistent with claims that Hispanic voters are demographically destined to pull the lever for Democrats. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, 28 Sep. 2021 When ready, dispense the coffee in the glass carafe by pushing the lever. Nicole Papantoniou, Good Housekeeping, 6 July 2022 To meet this extraordinary challenge, the President must use every tool and lever at his disposal. Michael Sheldrick, Forbes, 5 July 2022 The ratchet lock allows the head to move up freely, but not down until the lever is released. Talon Homer, Popular Mechanics, 17 June 2022 At first, the lever doesn’t work, and the experimenters measure how much a baby naturally presses down. Vanessa Lobue, Scientific American, 10 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb If so, squeeze the brake lever several times to see if the pistons retract. Joe Lindsey, Outside Online, 3 June 2020 No sensible business school professor would advocate that the CEO of a Fortune 500 company should lever his personal fortune to buy a completely unrelated, money-losing business. Anne Sraders, Fortune, 30 Apr. 2022 Separating the couples took forces up to 80 times a male’s body weight—like using an African elephant to lever a 150-pound person out of a hug. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 14 Mar. 2022 Per a recent strategic plan, the company is slated to raise $7 billion and de-lever its balance sheet by selling a part of the Lottery and Sports Betting businesses. Trefis Team, Forbes, 8 Mar. 2022 That follows efforts to ease mortgage lending in October, as well as efforts to permit stronger developers to lever back up in the domestic bond market to take over projects from weaker ones. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, 10 Dec. 2021 The deal represents Skyworks’ largest acquisition on record and is more than double its last reported cash balance of $1 billion, requiring the currently debt-free chip maker to lever up. Dan Gallagher, WSJ, 24 Apr. 2021 Gradually raising capital standards would de-lever the financial system, reducing the risk of future bailouts and limiting one way the super-rich in the financial sector magnify their wealth. Robert Stein, National Review, 15 Nov. 2020 Also undo the lift-rod assembly, all the parts that lever the stopper up and down. Roy Berendson, Popular Mechanics, 13 Sep. 2020 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near lever

Leven, Loch


lever action

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Statistics for lever

Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Lever.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lever. Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for 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

More from Merriam-Webster on 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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