Using the Spanish Verb ‘Levantar’

Verb usually means ‘to raise’ or ‘to lift’

children waking up man in bed
¡Es el tiempo de levantarse! (It's time to get up!).

 Laura Olivas / Getty Images

Usually meaning "to raise" or "to lift," the common Spanish verb levantar can also be used for other meanings that at first may not seem related.

Levantar is conjugated regularly.

Using Levantar for Raising or Lifting

Here are some examples of levantar with its usual meaning:

  • Courtney levantó la mano porque quería hacer una pregunta. (Courtney raised her hand because she wanted to ask a question.)
  • Levantaron el coche en el elevador. (They raised up the car on the hoist.)
  • Levantó la taza con su mano débil. (He raised the cup with his weak hand.)
  • Observa como la temperatura se levanta. (See how the temperature is rising.)
  • Inhalar y levantar los brazos. (Inhale and lift up your arms.)

Levantar is often used figuratively:

  • Levanto la voz por mis derechos. (I'm raising my voice for my rights.)
  • Levantaban la mirada para ver a los extraños que llegaban. (They looked up to see the strangers who were arriving.)

Other Meanings of Levantar

In context, levantar can be used to refer to the creating or intensifying of an emotional reaction:

  • Era un héroe que levantó al pueblo contra los invasores. (He was a leader who stirred up the people against the invaders.)
  • Las expresiones de cariño mientras estuvo hospitalizada levantaron su espíritu. (The expressions of affection while she was hospitalized lifted her spirits.)

In context, levantar can mean to suspend, adjourn or call off an event:

  • Las mujeres la ciudad norteña levantaron huelga de hambre tras alcanzar los objetivos. (The women in the northern city called off their hunger strike after reaching their goals.)
  • Se levantó el corte. (The court was adjourned.)
  • Rusia levantará embargo a la exportación de grano. (Russia will lift the embargo on grain exports.)

Similarly, levantar sometimes means to undo or unmake:

  • La policía levantó campamento y detuvierion a los manifestantes. (The police broke up the camp and detained the protesters.)
  • Pablo levantó la cama y abrió la ventana. (Pablo unmade the bed and opened the window.)

Using the Reflexive, Levantarse

In the reflexive form, levantarse frequently means to "wake up" or to arise from bed:

  • ¡No me quiero levantar! (I don't want to get up!)
  • Catrina se levantó de la cama con dificultad. (Catrina got out of bed with difficulty.)
  • Entonces se levantó para ir al aeropuerto. (Then he got up to go to their airport.)

Levantarse can also be used for other instances of a person or thing rising on its own volition:

  • El boxeador se levantó y regresó al cuadrilátero. (The boxer got up and returned to the ring.)
  • El cohete se levantó lentamente de la plataforma. (The rocket lifted off from the platform.)
  • Tanta pobreza y explotación fueron el motivo de que la gente se levantara en armas. (So much poverty and exploitation were the reason the people rose yup in arms.)

Words Based on Levantar

A noun form of levantar is levantamiento. It refer to an act of lifting or raising.

  • El levantamiento de pesas es un deporte que consiste en el levantamiento del máximo peso posible. (Weightlifting is a port that consists of the lifting of the maximum weight possible.)
  • El término médico para un levantamiento de párpados es blefaroplastia. (The medical term for an eyebrow lift is blepharoplasty.)

A levantador or levantadora is a person or thing that lifts something. It is most often used for a weightlifter or various kinds of tools used for lifting.

  • La levantadora ganó su segunda medalla de oro. (The weightlifter won her second gold medal.)
  • El levantador de vacía se usa con hojas de vidrio. (The vacuum lifting device is used with panes of glass.)

Etymology and English Words Related to Levantar

Levantar comes from Latin verb levāre, which had a similar meaning.

There is no English equivalent of levantar that comes from the same source, although "levitate" is a related word with a similar meaning. Also related is "levity," which refers to an emotional lightness. In fact, the English "light," when it refers to something not heavy, is a distantly connected with this family of words.

Key Takeaways

  • The Spanish verb levantar usually means to lift or raise something, either literally or figuratively.
  • The reflexive form levantarse is used for a person or thing rising on its own, including a person getting up after sleep.
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Erichsen, Gerald. "Using the Spanish Verb ‘Levantar’." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, Erichsen, Gerald. (2020, August 28). Using the Spanish Verb ‘Levantar’. Retrieved from Erichsen, Gerald. "Using the Spanish Verb ‘Levantar’." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 30, 2023).