leviathan

noun

le·​vi·​a·​than li-ˈvī-ə-thən How to pronounce leviathan (audio)
1
a
often capitalized : a sea monster defeated by Yahweh in various scriptural accounts
b
: a large sea animal
this leviathan of animals is the great Blue WhaleWeston LaBarre
2
capitalized : the political state
especially : a totalitarian state having a vast bureaucracy
3
: something large or formidable
that leviathan of international corporations
leviathan adjective

Did you know?

Old Testament references to a huge sea monster, Leviathan (in Hebrew, Liwyāthān), are thought to come from an ancient myth in which the god Baal slays a multiheaded sea monster. Leviathan appears in the Book of Psalms, as a sea serpent that is killed by God and then given as food to creatures in the wilderness, and it is mentioned in the Book of Job as well. Today, its name is used for "something monstrous or of enormous size."

Examples of leviathan in a Sentence

The factory is a towering leviathan in the middle of the town. a leviathan of the seas, that cruise ship is said to be the largest passenger vessel afloat
Recent Examples on the Web In early 2024, the selling group, an alliance of Wall Street leviathan Goldman Sachs as well as the respected and veteran real estate firm Hines, began to scout for prospective buyers. George Avalos, The Mercury News, 4 June 2024 Clara, a 6-foot-6 leviathan who the Ducks selected in the second round of the 2023 NHL Draft (60th overall), climbed the draft board and has only seen his stock rise since last summer. Andrew Knoll, Orange County Register, 3 June 2024 Recently, the landscape has offered further validation that preindustrial Icelanders regularly killed and harvested these leviathans. Andrew Chapman, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 May 2024 The values that the anarchists had been championing — a return to a more egalitarian society liberated from the twin leviathans of Big Government and Big Capital — largely disappeared from mainstream political conversation over the subsequent century. Steven Johnson, New York Times, 17 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for leviathan 

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Late Latin, from Hebrew liwyāthān

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of leviathan was in the 14th century

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near leviathan

Cite this Entry

“Leviathan.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leviathan. Accessed 23 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

leviathan

noun
le·​vi·​a·​than li-ˈvī-ə-thən How to pronounce leviathan (audio)
1
often capitalized : a sea monster often standing for evil in the Old Testament and Christian literature
2
: something very large or powerful of its kind

More from Merriam-Webster on leviathan

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!