Levying violence

Neal Whitman nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET
Tue Mar 23 17:22:58 UTC 2010

>From a sad news story about a child killed by an abusive stepfather:

"No one could have anticipated that this kind of violence would have been
levied on this child."

Violence levied? I've heard of taxes being levied, and sometimes bank
charges, but not violence. I've also heard of charges and accusations being
leveled, which I take to be a metaphorical extension of leveling (i.e.
aiming) a gun at someone. Is there some combined phonetic and semantic
blending going on here, such that undesirable things are levied on people?

OED has a definition of "levy" as "wrongly used for LEVEL", but attestations
only from 1600s.
a1634 RANDOLPH De Histrice 2 Poems (1638) 26 Fam'd Stymphall, I have heard,
thy birds in flight Shoot showers of arrowes forth all levied right.

Earliest hit in GNA, 1994: "Rooney touted his agenda against all violence
levied at and between children, as well as his ability to help bring state
money to the 133rd."


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list