Levee or Levy – Different Meanings and Different Spellings

Do you know the difference between levee or levy? These homophones have different meanings, and skilled writers need to understand them.

The words levee or levy are confusing because these two words are homophones. This means they sound the same but have different meanings. To ensure that your writing is correct, you must learn to distinguish between the two to choose the correct spelling every time.

Thankfully, there are distinct differences between the word levee and the word levy. Take some time to learn them, so you can write properly.

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Distinguishing Between Levee or Levy in English Writing

Levee or levy

In order to know if you are talking about a levee system or a levy system, you must know the different meanings and usages of these two commonly confused words. Breaking down their meanings, parts of speech and etymology will help you keep them straight.

The Meaning of Levee

Levee can be a noun or a transitive verb that takes a direct object. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the first noun usage of levee means “a formal reception held in honor of a particular person,” while the second use means “a river landing place” or “a dike for confining irrigation on flooded land.” Here are some examples of these usages:

  • The steep bank of a river is a good place to build a levee for the safety of boaters.
  • Levees and parades are common when a soldier returns from war.
  • We need more sandbags to ensure the levee will hold as a floodwall.

When used as a transitive verb, levee means “to provide with a levee.” This use always connects to rivers or the border of an irrigated field, and because it is a transitive verb, it requires a direct object. Here are some examples:

  • We leveed the river to protect our property from the rising water level.
  • We need to levee a floodwall before the torrential rains hit to stop the flow of water.

Etymology of Levee

The word levee comes from the French word lever, which means “act of rising.” It also comes from the Old French word levee, which means “act of raising.” The verb form of this word did not come on the scene until the 1800s.

Synonyms for Levee

Other words that mean similar things to levee include:

  • Dam
  • Dike
  • Embankment
  • Head
  • Dock
  • Jetty
  • Pier
  • Slip
  • Mooring
  • Berth

The Meaning of Levy

The word levy also has a noun and a verb use. According to Merriam-Webster, the noun use means “a charge usually of money collected by the government from people for public use.” Here are some examples:

  • The lawmakers approved a new levy on imports to help raise money for the dock structure.
  • Many people protested the levy on cigarettes because it raised the price so high.

When used as a verb, levy means “to pick, especially for required military service, as in conscription.” It can also mean “to establish as a charge or penalty.” Here are some examples:

  • The commissioner levied a fine against the players who were guilty of the fight.
  • The need to levy soldiers is a sad part of our American heritage, but often necessary for the protection of the country.

Etymology of Levy

Like levee, levy has French origins. It comes from the Anglo-French word leve, which means raising. this word comes from lever which means to raise.

Synonyms for Levy

Some synonyms for the noun version of levy include:

  • Assessment
  • Duty
  • Imposition
  • Impost
  • Tax

Some synonyms for the verb version of levy include:

  • Conscribe
  • Conscript
  • Draft

A Final Word on Levee or Levy

Levee and levy are homophones, which makes them difficult to tell apart. You will need to know the different meanings in order to spell these words correctly in your writing.

If you are talking about a river or flood water, you will use levee. Levee can also be used to talk about a formal reception for someone.

If you are talking about taxes or military service, you will use levy. Similarly, if you are talking about a penalty, you need to use levy.

FAQs On Levee Or Levy

What does it mean to levy?

Levying refers to raising taxes or penalties. It can also mean to draft someone into military service.

What Is The Difference Between A Floodplain And A Levee?

Levees are banks on the side of a river that gets built up to prevent flooding. A floodplain is an area of land between the river and occupied property that is often quite fertile, where floodwaters can add irrigation to the crops.

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  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.