gar·​gan·​tuan gär-ˈgan(t)-sh(ə-)wən How to pronounce gargantuan (audio)
often capitalized
: tremendous in size, volume, or degree : gigantic, colossal
gargantuan waterfalls

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Gargantua is the name of a giant king in François Rabelais's 16th-century satiric novel Gargantua, the second part of a five-volume series about the giant and his son Pantagruel. All of the details of Gargantua's life befit a giant. He rides a colossal mare whose tail switches so violently that it fells the entire forest of Orleans. He has an enormous appetite, such that in one incident he inadvertently swallows five pilgrims while eating a salad. The scale of everything connected with Gargantua led to the adjective gargantuan, which since William Shakespeare's time has been used for anything of tremendous size or volume.

Example Sentences

a creature of gargantuan proportions people seem to be buying ever more gargantuan SUVs these days
Recent Examples on the Web Extracting it, refining it and readying it for export is a gargantuan task. Rebecca Tan, Dera Menra Sijabat And Joshua Irwandi, Anchorage Daily News, 12 May 2023 One of them, ironically, leads his music this week: Chicago Symphony music director Riccardo Muti, here notching career-first performances of Rachmaninoff’s gargantuan, beyond-lush Symphony No. 2. Hannah Edgar, Chicago Tribune, 12 May 2023 Conversely, unscripted shows, though not as gargantuan at launch, exhibit significantly lower popularity decline over time. Callum Mclennan, Variety, 17 Apr. 2023 Electric trucks' gargantuan size and massive battery packs have not gone unnoticed. Morgan Korn, ABC News, 16 Apr. 2023 Tour Frida Kahlo’s house, be entranced by Diego Rivera’s gargantuan murals — the one in the National Palace is impressive, looming nearly two stories high — and visit the exhibits in the Palace of Fine Arts. Chelsee Lowe, Travel + Leisure, 12 Apr. 2023 This gargantuan figure does not include an additional nearly $100 million in direct campaign contributions over that same time period. Prem Thakker, The New Republic, 20 Feb. 2023 The house in which Carl (Chandler Riggs) outwits a hungry walker in season four and rewards himself with a gargantuan can of chocolate pudding is a two-story Craftsman-style abode, built sometime between 1910 and 1920 by Senoia cotton merchant Oscar Mann. Declan Gallagher,, 17 Nov. 2022 In an era when gargantuan media conglomerates hope to tempt advertisers into buying tons of commercials across many networks, streaming outlets and digital sites, Marianne Gambelli has come to appreciate the art of staying small. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 10 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gargantuan.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



First Known Use

1596, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of gargantuan was in 1596


Dictionary Entries Near gargantuan

Cite this Entry

“Gargantuan.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


gar·​gan·​tuan gär-ˈganch-wən How to pronounce gargantuan (audio)
: extraordinary in size, degree, or volume : gigantic

from Gargantua, a giant with an enormous appetite in books by the French author François Rabelais

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