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An archaic name for the eastern part of the Mediterranean with its islands and neighbouring countries. The name comes from French, literally ‘rising’, the present participle of lever ‘to lift’, used as a noun in the sense ‘point of sunrise, east’. Recorded from the late 15th century, the word originally meant more generally the countries of the east, with High Levant another term for the Far East.

The archaic term levant ‘run away, typically leaving unpaid debts’ may come from this; there is a comparable expression in French faire voile en Levant, literally ‘set sail for the Levant.’

levanter a strong easterly wind in the Mediterranean region.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500).

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