1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Levee
LEVEE (from the French substantival use of lever, to rise; there is no French substantival use of levée in the English sense), a reception or assembly held by the British sovereign or his representative, in Ireland by the lord-lieutenant, in India by the viceroy, in the forenoon or early afternoon, at which men only are present in distinction from a “drawing-room,” at which ladies also are presented or received. Under the ancien règime in France the lever of the king was regulated, especially under Louis XIV., by elaborate etiquette, and the various divisions of the ceremonial followed the stages of the king’s rising from bed, from which it gained its name. The petit lever began when the king had washed and said his daily offices; to this were admitted the princes of the blood, certain high officers of the household and those to whom a special permit had been granted; then followed the première entrée, to which came the secretaries and other officials and those having the entrée; these were received by the king in his dressing-gown. Finally, at the grand lever, the remainder of the household, the nobles and gentlemen of the court were received; the king by that time was shaved, had changed his linen and was in his wig. In the United States the term “levee” was formerly used of the public receptions held by the president.