Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Behemoth

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The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is behemoth. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

A behemoth is something of monstrous size, power, or appearance. Behemoth (usually capitalized) is also the name of a mighty animal described in the biblical book of Job.

// The town will be voting on whether or not to let the retail behemoth build a store on the proposed site.

BEHEMOTH in Context

“By anyone’s lights, the federal bureaucracy is a cumbersome, slow-moving behemoth.” — The Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 1 June 2022

Did You Know?

In the biblical book of Job, Behemoth is the name of a powerful grass-eating, river-dwelling beast with bones likened to bronze pipes and limbs likened to iron bars. Scholars have speculated that the biblical creature was inspired by the hippopotamus, but details about the creature’s exact nature are vague. The word first passed from Hebrew into Latin, where, according to 15th century English poet and monk John Lydgate it referred to “a beast rude full of cursednesse.” In modern English, behemoth mostly functions as an evocative term for something of monstrous size, power, or appearance.

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