Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Something unusually large of its kind, especially a ship.
  • n. A very large animal, especially a whale.
  • n. A monstrous sea creature mentioned in the Bible.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Very large; gargantuan.
  • n. A large sea monster which guards the gates of hell at the bottom of the sea.
  • n. Something large; behemoth.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An aquatic animal, described in the book of Job, ch. xli., and mentioned in other passages of Scripture.
  • n. The whale, or a great whale.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An aquatic animal mentioned in the Old Testament.
  • n. Hence, in modern use Any great or monstrous marine animal, as the whale.
  • n. Anything of vast or huge size.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the largest or most massive thing of its kind
  • n. monstrous sea creature symbolizing evil in the Old Testament

Etymologies

Middle English, huge biblical sea creature, from Late Latin, from Hebrew liwyātān; see lwy in Semitic roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Hebrew (Biblical and Modern) לִוְיָתָן ("whale"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Thomas Barnett says the military should be divided between what he calls a leviathan force for high intensity wars and a system administrative force to rebuild nations.

    CNN Transcript May 18, 2004

  • (for otherwise it seems unaccountable) why Moses there so particularly mentions the creation of the whales, because God had so lately insisted upon the bulk and strength of that creature than of any other, as the proof of his power; and the leviathan is here spoken of as an inhabitant of the sea (v. 31), which the crocodile is not; and Ps. civ.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume III (Job to Song of Solomon)

  • In the event of leviathan attack, the offending leviathan is shot by the laser on a specific blue spot near its right flank, which has the effect of relaxing all muscular structure and connective tissue in the leviathan body, killing it instanteously.

    Archive 2004-08-08

  • It is worthy of note, too, that the word leviathan in xli. 1 is used in a totally different sense from iii 8, where it is the mythological (sea?) dragon.

    Introduction to the Old Testament

  • I think much of fishing for a leviathan from the Island of the Cold Sea.

    Fir-Flower Tablets: Poems Translated From the Chinese

  • The leviathan is said to play in the waters, because he is so well armed against all assaults that he sets them at defiance and laughs at the shaking of a spear, Job xli.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume III (Job to Song of Solomon)

  • There are creatures so little, so weak, as to be easily restrained thus, and triumphed over; but the leviathan is not one of these: he is made to be the terror, not the sport and diversion, of mankind.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume III (Job to Song of Solomon)

  • The face of the leviathan is here described to be terrible (ver.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume III (Job to Song of Solomon)

  • (Psalms 104: 26) seems to show that in this passage the name represents some animal of the whale tribe, which is common in the Mediterranean; but it is somewhat uncertain what animal is denoted in (Isaiah 27: 1) As the term leviathan is evidently used in no limited sense, it is not improbable that the "leviathan the piercing serpent," or "leviathan the crooked serpent," may denote some species of the great rock-snakes which are common in south and west Africa.

    Smith's Bible Dictionary

  • Schuttens renders it by supplying words as follows: -- Let those that are ready for anything, call it (the day) the raiser up of leviathan, that is, of a host of evils.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Comments

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  • Can also be used to decribe complete political control and vast bureaucracy.

    "The heirarchy of levithans seek to gain control of all ports."

    July 2, 2009

  • See also leviathan of forensics.

    September 30, 2008

  • (Hebrew: לִוְיָתָן, Standard Liwyatan Tiberian Liwy�?ṯ�?n ; "Twisted; coiled") A Biblical sea monster referred to in the Old Testament (Psalm 74:13-14; Job 41; Isaiah 27:1). The word leviathan has become synonymous with any large sea monster or creature. (Wikipedia)

    May 22, 2008

  • from a semitic root meaning "turning, winding and twisting"

    January 14, 2008

  • ... or that Sea-beast
    Leviathan, which God of all his works
    Created hugest that swim th' Ocean stream ...

    Milton, Paradise Lost I

    December 17, 2006