Definition of leviathan
1a often capitalized : a sea monster defeated by Yahweh in various scriptural accountsb : a large sea animal <this leviathan of animals is the great Blue Whale — Weston LaBarre>
2 capitalized : the political state; especially : a totalitarian state having a vast bureaucracy
3 : something large or formidable <that leviathan of international corporations>
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>
Did You Know?
Old Testament references to a huge sea monster, Leviathan (in Hebrew, Liwyāthān), are thought to spring 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 the Hebrews in the wilderness, and it is referred to in the book of Job as well. We began equating Leviathan with the political state after the philosopher Thomas Hobbes used the word in (and as the title of) his 1651 political treatise on government. Today, Leviathan often suggests a crushing political bureaucracy. Leviathan can also be immensely useful as a general term meaning "something monstrous or of enormous size."
Origin and Etymology of leviathan
Middle English, from Late Latin, from Hebrew liwyāthān
First Known Use: 14th century
LEVIATHAN Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of leviathan for English Language Learners
: something that is very large and powerful
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