le·​vi·​a·​than | \ li-ˈvī-ə-thən How to pronounce leviathan (audio) \

Definition of leviathan

1a 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

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Other Words from leviathan

leviathan adjective

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."

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

But then something extremely not-boring happened: A gigantic leviathan creature crashed into their ship, destroying it and scattering Kadyn and Gil in opposite directions. Christian Holub, EW.com, "5 comics to read this August: Epic battles on fallen worlds," 2 Aug. 2019 This time of year is prime for humpback sightings in Monterey Bay: The hungry leviathans stop in the area each summer to snack on schooling anchovies. Sarah Keartes, National Geographic, "How a humpback whale ended up with a sea lion in its mouth," 30 July 2019 Google’s efforts to control its employees’ speech is a leviathan of a task for a company with nearly 100,000 global employees. Shirin Ghaffary, Vox, "Political tension at Google is only getting worse," 2 Aug. 2019 The symphony is a leviathan, clocking in at roughly 70 minutes, and the Shed stage was packed to the rafters. Zoë Madonna, BostonGlobe.com, "Boston Symphony Orchestra begins Tanglewood season in style," 7 July 2019 The aesthetics of Trump are the opposite of the aesthetics of the Mall, which took form during the progressive era, at a moment when many in public life were deeply concerned about the evolution of the country into a commercial leviathan. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, "Forget the tanks. Trump’s violation of the Lincoln Memorial is the real offense.," 3 July 2019 While LeftTubers find capitalism flawed at best and broken at worst, none felt deep personal tension between their politics and their presence on YouTube, an arm of the corporate leviathan Google. Shaan Amin, The New Republic, "Can the Left Win YouTube?," 2 July 2019 Another person spotted Migaloo towards the end of May, capturing the majestic leviathan on film. Fox News, "Rare white whale spotted off Australian coast," 21 June 2019 The best spots to see these leviathans with their new calves are off west Maui, around Wailea and Lahaina. National Geographic, "10 unforgettable animal-watching adventures," 21 June 2019

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.

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First Known Use of leviathan

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

History and Etymology for leviathan

Middle English, from Late Latin, from Hebrew liwyāthān

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Statistics for leviathan

Last Updated

27 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for leviathan

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

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English Language Learners Definition of leviathan

literary : something that is very large and powerful

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More from Merriam-Webster on leviathan

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for leviathan

Spanish Central: Translation of leviathan

Nglish: Translation of leviathan for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about leviathan

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