"Mediterranean lands east of Italy," especially the coastal region and islands of Asia Minor, Syria, and Lebanon, late 15c., from Middle French levant "the Orient" (12c.), from present participle of lever "to rise" (from Latin levare "to raise," from PIE root *legwh- "not heavy, having little weight"). So called because the region was (from Western Europe) in the direction of sunrise. Related: Levanter.
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