Definition of lever in English:



  • 1A rigid bar resting on a pivot, used to move a heavy or firmly fixed load with one end when pressure is applied to the other.

    ‘a tyre lever’
    • ‘The thief was then chased down the main street by neighbours, but managed to escape, leaving behind a tyre lever, torch and some of his clothing.’
    • ‘This can happen through leverage by rigid levers, or it can occur in pliant hydrostatic cylinders of constant volume.’
    • ‘Heaven knows what kind of implements he used - perhaps a tyre lever and a power drill!’
    • ‘One lever ‘set’ consists of two rigid levers and four deflectable lever pairs of different length, any of which can be used for the experiment.’
    • ‘Wooden levers were used to move loads over short distances, but for longer hauls it was necessary to construct ramps to bring blocks of stone up to the higher levels of the structure.’
    • ‘If we hoped to blend in with the locals, we would definitely have to get ourselves a couple of tyre levers and second-hand wetsuits.’
    • ‘On a hard surface, the base of the scales bowed slightly, shortening the distance between the fulcrum of the levers and the point at which they put pressure on the spring.’
    • ‘The movement of large building blocks was done by the use of levers and pulleys.’
    • ‘In Book II Heron discusses lifting heavy objects with a lever, a pulley, a wedge, or a screw.’
    • ‘The further the effort is from the fulcrum, the easier a lever is to move so in general long levers are more useful.’
    • ‘An object that a lever moves is called the load.’
    • ‘In the following demonstration a child uses a lever to lift an adult.’
    • ‘Long and thin rigid elements make good levers that have high speed and displacement advantage.’
    • ‘I have seen programs where people used levers and pulleys to move large, heavy blocks of stone.’
    • ‘The physics curriculum works with fulcrums, levers, and pulleys, echoing in the physical world the rapid growth of arms and legs that teens experience at this age.’
    crowbar, bar, handspike, jemmy
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    1. 1.1 A projecting arm or handle that is moved to operate a mechanism.
      ‘a control lever’
      • ‘The piano teacher gives all lessons on an early fortepiano that has a knee lever for operating the damper mechanism.’
      • ‘I panicked, something I rarely do, and pressed the throttle lever.’
      • ‘Ben pulled the gear lever down and sat back to enjoy the rest of the landing.’
      • ‘Morgan pulled a series of levers on the control panel.’
      • ‘As Alex regained consciousness, she pulled the lever on the door handle.’
      • ‘My fingers found a small lever on the side and pushed it.’
      • ‘For convenience and safety, some skid-steer loader manufacturers mount switches on the steering control grips or levers to control these multifunctional tools.’
      • ‘I brought the engine back to life and pulled the control lever back.’
      • ‘Darcy went over to the controls and pulled the lever up, and the plane straightened up.’
      • ‘Just gently pull a small chrome lever to apply the electronic parking brake.’
      • ‘Reacting quickly, I attempted to squeeze the left brake lever.’
      • ‘Most excavator operators find it easier to operate levers, switches, and other controls with their hands or fingers rather than the ball or heel of their foot.’
      • ‘He immediately pulled the brake lever as far back as it would go.’
      • ‘Users can control the force output of the head easily by squeezing the throttle lever.’
      • ‘Finally, return to the original side and latch down the locking lever.’
      • ‘As he issued the words his hand came down and pushed the throttle lever forward.’
      • ‘Hesitantly, Ian pushed the gear lever into reverse and slowly let the clutch out.’
      • ‘First, make sure the locking lever is in the up position.’
      • ‘My eyes continued to scan the panel and my hands moved rapidly to ensure the proper positions of controls, levers and switches as I called out the answers.’
      • ‘Dr. Zamia pulled a lever with a red handle, and the hum evolved into a loud roar.’
      handle, grip, pull, switch, joystick, key, knob
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    2. 1.2 A means of pressurizing someone into doing something.
      ‘rich countries use foreign aid as a lever to promote political pluralism’
      • ‘First of all, the most powerful lever for change has to do with the quality of the teacher.’
      • ‘At present the EU has a powerful lever to put pressure on candidate countries to pay more than lip service to demands for minority rights.’
      • ‘Mr Milburn said that community empowerment at neighbourhood level will be a future lever for change.’
      • ‘Appointed officials, rather than elected ones, control the levers of real power.’
      • ‘They are the unelected bankers, media barons and industry chiefs who control the crucial levers of power.’


  • 1with object and adverbial Lift or move with a lever.

    ‘she levered the lid off the pot with a screwdriver’
    • ‘The puncture took somewhat longer to repair as I couldn't find my pump, puncture repair kit or those little plastic bits you need to lever the tyre off.’
    • ‘Once inside, the lock was broken on the church door, which was levered open.’
    • ‘Now the English wall had broken, and the Normans were able to lever open the cracks.’
    • ‘She snapped the locks open and got her fork that she used to lever the window to move.’
    • ‘She called the police, woke her husband and the couple then watched as Townsend tried to lever open the door.’
    • ‘Firefighters did their best to coax Kaitlin out too, but were forced to lever open the door.’
    • ‘All the spare bits that came off the large rhizome when we were levering it out of the ground were then also reburied, and should hopefully come up nicely too.’
    • ‘He shook his head as he levered the stone another inch.’
    prise, force, wrench, pull, wrest, twist, rip, strain, tug, jerk, heave, move, shift, dislodge, jemmy
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    1. 1.1 Move (someone or something) with a concerted physical effort.
      ‘she levered herself up against the pillows’
      • ‘He levered himself off the wall and walked to the head of the bed.’
      • ‘She levered herself up into a sitting position and opened her eyes.’
      • ‘With some difficulty, he levered himself to his feet.’
      • ‘He wearily levered himself in and sat awhile watching the street.’
      • ‘Cath's face grew apprehensive as she gathered her crutches and levered herself upright.’
      • ‘Hands pressed to the table, he levers himself to his feet, emitting the yelp of a sumo wrestler.’
      • ‘He levered himself off the tree, rubbing his wrist.’
      • ‘Father grabbed his silver-headed cane and levered himself to his feet.’
      • ‘Once in his stall, as soon as Adam had removed his saddle, he sank carefully to his knees and levered his body down into the straw, grunting bravely.’
      • ‘Quickly, Sara levered herself upright against the wall, staring fearfully at the screaming man before her.’
      • ‘Immediately awake, he pushed down with his elbows, trying to lever himself upright.’
      • ‘She levered herself off the couch and walked to the door.’
      • ‘As you try to lever them into position, they seem to suddenly sprout extra limbs to match the extra decibels they are producing.’
      • ‘Wincing in pain, she levered her leg up onto a branch and leaned back, trying to regain her strength for her final run.’
    2. 1.2no object Use a lever.
      ‘the men levered at the coffin with crowbars’
    3. 1.3 Pressurize (someone) to do something.
      ‘another sticking point is the money that will be required to lever the unions into accepting a deal’
      • ‘They are going to have to take it because it is the right one to take, and the government should not allow them to lever out more concessions.’
      • ‘Modernisation of the profession and an increase in working hours to cover career development is still a sticking point, as is the money that will be required to lever the unions into accepting a deal.’
      • ‘This money can be used to lever in more funding from other sources that could lead to millions of pounds of investment going into the town.’
      • ‘In that case, we're actually levering the player's imagination as a co-processor to fill in the blanks where the computer is weak.’
      • ‘It is hoped that their expertise would allow the theatre to lever in private cash.’


Middle English: from Old French levier, leveor, from lever ‘to lift’.