What are the differences between "to take advantage" and "leverage"?

I have thought about that and got 2 points:

  1. as a verb, "leverage" is only acceptable in American English, this post has explained that in detail.

  2. when used with a derogatory sense, for example:

"I was taken advantage of by the two bullies"

Could "leverage" have taken its place?

  • 1
    psst... "I was taken advantage of..."
    – user218421
    Feb 9, 2017 at 18:49
  • "leverage" is MBA speak Feb 10, 2017 at 6:35

2 Answers 2


English is the most flexible language I've ever heard of but I don't think that using "leverage" as a verb is (yet) all that popular. Anyway as a verb it appears to mean just "to use [as] a lever" in its literal and translate senses, and as such it might assume the meaning "to abuse sb." or "to take advantage of sb." only if the lever were to be used as a weapon.

Thus I'd recommend to stick with the good old "to take advantage of --"


In most instances I find of using leverage as a verb meaning to "take advantage of", it is in a financial context. This ngram shows the usage of "leverage" as a verb is on the rise since 1970.

More Strategic Approach in Funding Airport Improvement Grants Could Improve Airline Industry Efficiency FAA and the Congress have an opportunity to leverage the almost $2 billion annual budget for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) in ...

--Airline Competition: Options for Addressing Financial and Competition (1993)

Consortiums allow employers to “leveragetheir money and provide services that would be too costly to provide alone.

-The Changing Workforce: Highlights of the National Study (1993)

I did find a usage in non-financial:

Computer-based tools can be used to leverage the experience and time of instructional designers: for instance, we've created a hypertext instructional design tool to aid us in documenting and managing courseware development.

-Multimedia for Learning: Development, Application, Evaluation

In fact, it is found in the Cambridge on-line:

to use something that you already have in order to achieve something new or better:

"We can gain a market advantage by leveraging our network of partners."

I would not use this verb to describe an altercation with bullies unless they are working in the financial or political sector.

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