Date: Tue, 13 Jan 1998 21:16:38 -0500 From: Gregory {Greg} Downing Subject: Re: "level the playing field" At 08:01 PM 1/13/98 -0500, you (Gerald Cohen ) wrote: > I recently received a query about the expression "to level the playing >field." In what way is a playing field leveled? What is the origin of this >unusual expression? Is it older than the past decade or so? > Hmmm, "to level" also means to survey some piece of ground in order to make sure it is flat or level. Perhaps (???) if one found early uses of this phrase they might mean "to ensure the field is level so that play is fair" rather than "to make the field level." However, the phrase is commonly used in current political discourse with the idea of actively making something level. -- After all, where would a politician be if s/he said "Elect me, I want to measure something" rather than "Elect me, I'm going to act to make things fair." For "to level" = "to survey for flatness," see OED2 level v. meaning 5, and also levelling vbl. n. meanings 2 and 3. But there is no "level... playing(-)field" anywhere in OED2. Greg Downing/NYU, at greg.downing[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] or downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]