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(1)   A rigid bar pivoted about a fulcrum
(2)   A flat metal tumbler in a lever lock
(3)   A simple machine that gives a mechanical advantage when given a fulcrum


(4)   To move or force, especially in an effort to get something open
"The burglar jimmied the lock", "Raccoons managed to pry the lid off the garbage pail"


Etymology 1

From , < < , past part. ; see levant. Cf. alleviate, elevate, leaven.


  1. A rigid piece which is capable of turning about one point, or axis (the fulcrum), and in which are two or more other points where forces are applied; — used for transmitting and modifying force and motion.
    1. Specifically, a bar of metal, wood or other rigid substance, used to exert a pressure, or sustain a weight, at one point of its length, by receiving a force or power at a second, and turning at a third on a fixed point called a fulcrum. It is usually named as the first of the six mechanical powers, and is of three kinds, according as either the fulcrum F, the weight W, or the power P, respectively, is situated between the other two, as in the figures.
  2. A small such piece to trigger or control a mechanical device (like a button)
  3. A bar, as a capstan bar, applied to a rotatory piece to turn it.
  4. An arm on a rock shaft, to give motion to the shaft or to obtain motion from it.


  1. To move with a lever.
    With great effort and a big crowbar I managed to lever the beam off the floor.
  2. To use, operate like a lever.
  3. To increase the share of debt in the capitalization of a business.

Etymology 2

From comparative of of Germanic origin (cf. German ) or .


  1. Rather.
    • 1530, John Heywood, The Four PP
      for I had lever be without ye / Then have suche besines about ye
    • 1537, William Tyndale et al, "Jonah", in The Byble
      Now therefore take my life from me, for I had lever die then live.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faery Queene
      For lever had I die than see his deadly face.