To level vs. to levy

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JadedLad

Member
English - UK
Hello,

I know that the verb 'to levy' usually means to impose (e.g. the government levied new tariffs on alcohol). However, I've heard people use it in contexts where it means 'to aim at' or 'to pin on'.

Try as I might, I can't seem to find that particular definition of the word in the dictionary, which makes me wonder if perhaps they're mixing up 'to levy' with 'to level'.

I'll provide some context by way of paraphrasing since I can't recall what was said verbatim, but it was something along the lines of:

In this past week, the new candidate has had a fair amount of sexual harassment accusations (or allegations) levied (levelled) against* him.

*I'm not sure if that's the preposition that was used in this context, it might've been 'at'.

Is the sentence above grammatically correct? If not, how so?

Cheers.
 
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  • JadedLad

    Member
    English - UK
    The accusations were levelled, not "levied", against him.
    That's precisely what I thought. In the news, though, I've been hearing journalists and politicians say 'to levy against' instead. I guess it's just one of those widespread mistakes. Thanks!
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    You might have been hearing the word correctly. I, too, sometimes hear "levied" in this situation; "levied" and "levelled" ought to be easy to tell apart, and I am under the impression this is one of those words that some people simply get wrong.
     

    JadedLad

    Member
    English - UK
    I know that Youtube links cannot be embedded in these forums, but just now I was watching a CNN video titled "Se Cupp to senators: I am begging you, be better than this" and at the 1:30 mark the journalist says: "...He announced he needed more time to learn about the allegations levied by Professor Christine..."

    It just goes to show you how pervasive this error is in those 'fields'. I reckon I've heard journalists and politicians say this a dozen times in this last few days.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    It just goes to show you how pervasive this error is in those 'fields'. I reckon I've heard journalists and politicians say this a dozen times in this last few days.
    Indeed.:thumbsup::thumbsup:
    We are beset by massive mangling of the English language by people who ought to know better, e.g.
    Chaise longue is called chaise lounge.
    Kindergarten is called "kindergarden"
    And as I endured on this past week's airline trip, mindless flight attendants calling "roll aboard" luggage : "rollerboard."
    Sigh.
     
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