leviathan

play
noun le·vi·a·than \ li-ˈvī-ə-thən \

Definition of leviathan

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 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

leviathan

adjective

leviathan was our Word of the Day on 12/04/2009. Hear the podcast!

Examples of leviathan in a Sentence

  1. The factory is a towering leviathan in the middle of the town.

  2. a leviathan of the seas, that cruise ship is said to be the largest passenger vessel afloat

Recent Examples of leviathan from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'leviathan.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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


LEVIATHAN Defined for English Language Learners

leviathan

play
noun

Definition of leviathan for English Language Learners

  • : something that is very large and powerful



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