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

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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 The leviathan is dead; sharks circle and feast on its tail and fins. Cate McQuaid, BostonGlobe.com, 30 Aug. 2023 To the post-liberals, both the Republicans and the Democrats are in league with the enemy: the liberal leviathan. Becca Rothfeld, Washington Post, 28 July 2023 The diplomat George Kennan and other Cold War realists put in star turns at the helm of the new American leviathan, but the connections between their thought and, say, John Cage’s classical compositions can be hard to trace. Beverly Gage, Foreign Affairs, 14 Dec. 2021 With nearly 75,000 students, Texas A&M, in College Station, about 95 miles northwest of Houston, is the state’s other leviathan of higher education — the more rural, more conservative rival to the University of Texas at Austin. Remy Tumin, New York Times, 21 July 2023 Mixed in its pages are original sketches and paintings from the expedition, a display of creatures every bit as strange as the kraken and the leviathan, though far less demonic. Carl Hoffman, Washington Post, 1 Aug. 2023 Schools, whose bass playing combines leviathan tone and infinity groove, and singer/guitarist John Bell, whose expressive howl is immediately identifiable, are the sole surviving founders. Matt Wake | Mwake@al.com, al, 27 July 2023 Hogan’s team hopes to use that breather to fill in vital details about the Mekong’s lengthy list of leviathans. Byrichard Stone, science.org, 30 May 2023 The 524-foot orange-and-black leviathan reached the North Pole a day earlier—its 59th visit—and is on its way back to Murmansk. Michael Verdon, Robb Report, 23 Apr. 2023 See More

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


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


Dictionary Entries Near leviathan

Cite this Entry

“Leviathan.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leviathan. Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


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

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