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having no part higher than another; having a flat or even surface.
being in a plane parallel to the plane of the horizon; horizontal.
equal, as one thing with another or two or more things with one another.
even, equable, or uniform.
filled to a height even with the rim of a container:
a level teaspoon of salt.
mentally well-balanced; sensible; rational:
to keep a level head in a crisis.
a device used for determining or adjusting something to a horizontal surface.

Also called surveyor’s level. an instrument for observing levels, having a sighting device, usually telescopic, and capable of being made precisely horizontal.
an observation made with this instrument.

an imaginary line or surface everywhere at right angles to the plumb line.
the horizontal line or plane in which anything is situated, with regard to its elevation.
a horizontal position or condition.
an extent of land approximately horizontal and unbroken by irregularities.
a level or flat surface.
a position with respect to a given or specified height:
The water rose to a level of 30 feet.
a position or plane in a graded scale of values; status; rank:
His acting was on the level of an amateur. They associated only with those on their own economic level.
an extent, measure, or degree of intensity, achievement, etc.:
a high level of sound; an average level of writing skill.
Linguistics. a major subdivision of linguistic structure, as phonology, morphology, or syntax, often viewed as hierarchically ordered.
Compare (def 6a), (def 8).
Mining. the interconnected horizontal mine workings at a particular elevation or depth:
There had been a cave-in on the 1500-foot level.
to make (a surface) level, even, or flat:
to level ground before building.
to raise or lower to a particular level or position; to make horizontal.
to bring (something) to the level of the ground:
They leveled the trees to make way for the new highway.
Informal. to knock down (a person):
He leveled his opponent with one blow.
to make equal, as in status or condition.
to make even or uniform, as coloring.
Historical Linguistics. (of the alternative forms of a paradigm) to reduce in number or regularize: Old English “him” (dative) and “hine” (accusative) have been leveled to Modern English “him.”.
to aim or point (a weapon, criticism, etc.) at a mark or objective:
He leveled his criticism at the college as a whole.
Surveying. to find the relative elevation of different points in (land), as with a level.
to bring things or persons to a common level.
to aim a weapon, criticism, etc., at a mark or objective.

to take a level.
to use a .

to speak truthfully and openly (often followed by with):
You’re not leveling with me about your trip to Chicago.
Obsolete. to direct the mind, purpose, etc., at something.
Obsolete. in a level, direct, or even way or line.
level off,

Aeronautics. to maintain a constant altitude after a climb or descent.
to become stable; reach a constant or limit.
to make even or smooth.

find one’s (own) level, to attain the place or position merited by one’s abilities or achievements:
He finally found his level as one of the directors of the firm.
one’s level best, one’s very best; one’s utmost:
We tried our level best to get here on time.
on the level, Informal. honest; sincere; reliable:
Is this information on the level?
Contemporary Examples

One gauge the Arizona politicos will be watching is the level of public outcry.
Jan Brewer’s Sleazy Power Grab John Avlon October 30, 2011

Prisoners even fill out questionnaires to rate the level of service.
Norway Shooter Gets Off Easy Stefan Theil July 25, 2011

“The Republican Party today is incapable of competing at that level,” said the man who proved incapable of beating Romney.
Why the Fiscal Cliff Is Causing a Nervous Breakdown on the Right Howard Kurtz December 10, 2012

That audiences willingly engage in some level of disbelief suspension is a cinematic given.
The Witty Genius of YouTube’s CinemaSins: Everything Wrong with Your Favorite Movie Rich Goldstein April 2, 2014

Displaying both brings a level of respect and admiration that many yearn to have.
FAMU ‘Marching 100’ Case Raises Veil on Secret Hazing Rituals Allison Samuels May 7, 2012

Historical Examples

The lecture platform of 1878 stood at as high a level as ever.
The Story of Chautauqua Jesse Lyman Hurlbut

They understand it, up to the level of their own stature; they know who loves them, but not who loves virtue.
Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson

You know that I’m absolutely on the level in my business dealings.
The Trail of Conflict Emilie Baker Loring

I think now it was because it seemed to bring you down nearer to my level.
Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald

How high up did you say we wuz here, young William, ten miles above the level o’ the sea?
The Great Sioux Trail Joseph Altsheler

on a horizontal plane
having a surface of completely equal height
being of the same height as something else
(of quantities to be measured, as in recipes) even with the top of the cup, spoon, etc
equal to or even with (something or someone else)
not having or showing inconsistency or irregularities
Also level-headed. even-tempered; steady
verb -els, -elling, -elled (US) -els, -eling, -eled
(transitive) sometimes foll by off. to make (a surface) horizontal, level, or even
to make (two or more people or things) equal, as in position or status
(transitive) to raze to the ground
(transitive) to knock (a person) down by or as if by a blow
(transitive) to direct (a gaze, criticism, etc) emphatically at someone
(informal) (intransitive) often foll by with. to be straightforward and frank
(intransitive; foll by off or out) to manoeuvre an aircraft into a horizontal flight path after a dive, climb, or glide
(often foll by at) to aim (a weapon) horizontally
(surveying) to determine the elevation of a section of (land), sighting through a levelling instrument to a staff at successive pairs or points
a horizontal datum line or plane
a device, such as a spirit level, for determining whether a surface is horizontal
a surveying instrument consisting basically of a telescope with a spirit level attached, used for measuring relative heights of land See Abney level, dumpy level
a reading of the difference in elevation of two points taken with such an instrument
position or status in a scale of values
amount or degree of progress; stage
a specified vertical position; altitude
a horizontal line or plane with respect to which measurement of elevation is based: sea level
a flat even surface or area of land
a horizontal passage or drift in a mine
any of the successive layers of material that have been deposited with the passage of time to build up and raise the height of the land surface
(physics) the ratio of the magnitude of a physical quantity to an arbitrary magnitude: sound-pressure level
do one’s level best, to make every possible effort; try one’s utmost
find one’s level, to find one’s most suitable place socially, professionally, etc
on a level, on the same horizontal plane as another
(informal) on the level, sincere, honest, or genuine

mid-14c., “tool to indicate a horizontal line,” from Old French livel “a level” (13c.), ultimately from Latin libella “a balance, level,” diminutive of libra “balance, scale, unit of weight,” from PIE *lithra. Cognate Spanish nivel, Modern French niveau are from the same source but altered by dissimilation. Meaning “horizontality” is from c.1400. Meaning “position as marked by a horizontal line” is from 1530s. Phrase on the level “fair, honest” is from 1872; earlier it meant “moderate, without great ambition” (1790).

early 15c., from level (n.). To do one’s level best is from 1851.

mid-15c., “to make level,” from level (n.). From c.1600 as “to bring to a level;” 1958 as “to cease increasing.” Meaning “to aim a gun” is late 15c. Slang sense of “tell the truth” is from 1920. To level up “to rise” is attested by 1863.

A word here as to the misconception labored under by our English neighbor; he evidently does not understand the American manner of doing things. We never level down in this country; we are always at work on the up grade. “Level up! Level up!” is the motto of the American people. [James E. Garretson, “Professional Education,” in “The Dental Cosmos,” Philadelphia, 1865]

To level off “cease rising or falling” is from 1920, originally in aviation.

level lev·el (lěv’əl)

Relative position or rank on a graded scale, such as mental or emotional development.

A relative degree, as of intensity or concentration.


Legitimate; kosher: She’s a legit farmer/by legit, or honest, people (1931+)
Having to do with or being of the legitimate theater: specialists in legit reviewing (1923+)


The legitimate theater, or one such theater (1897+)

Related Terms

on the legit

level best
level off
level with someone

also see:

do one’s (level) best
on the level


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