[Ads-l] "the levy's going to break"

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Fri Jul 10 13:16:40 UTC 2015

I was hoping someone could tell me this was an eggcorn rather than a simple misspelling -- that is, suggest a possible meaning that might possibly fit.  I think not in the context I provided, but consider this clever financial use:

"When the levy breaks: Energy bills, green levies and a fairer low-carbon transition.

"This report looks at who is paying the most to fund the green and social policies that are wrapped up in our energy bills, who's benefitting, and how this balance could become fairer. Otherwise, as these levies rise, there is a risk that public support will plummet, leaving vital low-carbon and climate change initiatives high and dry."


There is at least one other such use.  And at least one "misspelling" in the vicinity of dams:

"Homes evacuated after levy breaks near Messex.

"WASHINGTON COUNTY – Evacuation notices have been sent to 15 homes in the Messex area to warn them of oncoming water due to a breached levy."


Too many people -- and comets -- named "Levy" to make further searching interesting to me.

I see nothing remarkable -- meaning "worth remarking on" -- in the rest of the financial adviser's text.


 From: "Baker, John" <JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM>
Sent: Thursday, July 9, 2015 8:59 PM
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "the levy's going to break"

As a financial professional in my day job, I don't see anything special in this usage; I think "levy" here is just a misspelling of "levee," which is essentially the same thing as a dike, although levees in the popular imagination are found on the Mississippi River and are more associated with breaking.  Note that this careless writer also refers to "dam[ming] the dike," when he means to dam the flood or to fix or plug the dike.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Joel Berson
Sent: Thursday, July 09, 2015 8:01 PM
Subject: "the levy's going to break"

"What's happening in China is a mirror image of past crashes elsewhere—right down to regulatory bodies (China's Securities Regulatory Commission and the China Securities Finance Corp.) stepping in to purchase blue chips and small-cap stocks in an effort to bolster morale and dam the dike. Typically, when the government moves in as a buyer of last resort, one wishes one had already left the resort … and when one resorts to plugging the dike, you'd better be heading for the hills, since that's code for "the levy's going to break"."

>From an investment adviser's on-line weekly report.

I am not in enough to know whether "levy" as financial argot might be meaningful here.  (Although I enjoyed the pun on "resort".)


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