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See also: léviathan and Leviathan


Behemoth and Leviathan, by William Blake

Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English levyethan, levyathan, etc., from Late Latin leviathan, a transliteration of Biblical Hebrew לִוְיָתָן (liv'yatán).


  • enPR: lə-vīʹə-thən, IPA(key): /ləˈvaɪ.ə.θən/
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪəθən


leviathan (plural leviathans)

  1. (biblical, mythology) A vast sea monster of tremendous strength, described as the most powerful and dangerous creature in the ocean.
  2. (figuratively) Something monstrously large or mighty in size, strength, wealth, etc.
    Synonyms: behemoth, colossus, mammoth, titan
    • 1840 April – 1841 November, Charles Dickens, “Chapter the Twenty-seventh”, in The Old Curiosity Shop. A Tale. [], volume I, London: Chapman and Hall, [], published 1841, →OCLC:
      When she had exhibited these leviathans of public announcement to the astonished child, she brought forth specimens of the lesser fry in the shape of hand-bills, some of which were couched in the form of parodies on popular melodies, []
    • 1855 January 5, Anthony Trollope, “The Warden’s Decision”, in The Warden, London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, →OCLC, page 200:
      It [a newspaper article] named some sons of bishops, and grandsons of archbishops; men great in their way, who had redeemed their disgrace in the eyes of many by the enormity of their plunder; and then, having disposed of these leviathans, it descended to Mr Harding.
    • 1895–1897, H[erbert] G[eorge] Wells, “The ‘Thunder Child’”, in The War of the Worlds, London: William Heinemann, published 1898, →OCLC, (please specify the page number(s)):
      Keeping his footing on the heaving deck by clutching the bulwarks, my brother looked past this charging leviathan at the Martians again, and he saw the three of them now close together, and standing so far out to sea that their tripod supports were almost entirely submerged. Thus sunken, and seen in remote perspective, they appeared far less formidable than the huge iron bulk in whose wake the steamer was pitching so helplessly.
    • 2020 October 7, Cecilia D'Anastasio, “Amazon Wants to ‘Win at Games.’ So Why Hasn’t It?”, in Wired[1]:
      After brute-forcing its way to dominance in so many industries, the tech leviathan may finally have met its match.
  3. (political science, sometimes capitalized) The political state, especially a domineering and totalitarian one as theorized by Thomas Hobbes.



leviathan (not comparable)

  1. Very large; gargantuan.
    Synonyms: enormous, giant, ginormous; see also Thesaurus:large


Further reading[edit]