behemoth

[bih-hee-muhth, bee-uh-]
noun
1.
an animal, perhaps the hippopotamus, mentioned in job 40:15–24.
2.
any creature or thing of monstrous size or power: The army's new tank is a behemoth. The cartel is a behemoth that small business owners fear.

Origin:
1350–1400; < Hebrew bəhēmōth, an augmentative plural of bəhēmāh beast; replacing Middle English bemoth


The original behemoth is found in the Bible. Job 40:15-24 describes a land-dwelling beast having mythic proportions (a tail like a cedar tree) and supernatural characteristics (bones like bars of brass and iron). The Hebrew word that is used (bəhēmōth) is the augmentative plural form of the word for “beast” or “animal.” Normally, bəhēmōth would translate as the plural noun “beasts,” but as it is used to describe a singular being, the interpretation is that of a mighty or monstrous animal.
Much folklore has arisen around behemoth. One story has it that behemoth, separated from its aquatic counterpart leviathan at the dawn of creation, will be reunited with it in an epic battle on Judgment Day in which each will slay the other. Following this biblical King Kong vs. Godzilla match, both animals will be served up as a feast for the remaining faithful.
Behemoth makes an appearance in such classics of literature as John Milton's Paradise Lost, Shelley's Prometheus Unbound, and James Joyce's Finnegans Wake. Today we use it to apply to anything large, powerful, and often unwieldy.


Behemoth: Thomas Hobbes's 1681 book on the English Civil Wars, from the Scottish revolution in 1637 to the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660.
—Behemoth: A character in The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Behemoth is a walking, talking, gun-toting black cat, and a demon in disguise.
—Behemoth: A Polish rock band, playing what's known as blackened death metal, a mix of black metal and thrash metal music.
—The Behemoth: A video game development company, creators of the popular video games Alien Hominid (2004) and Castle Crashers (2008).
Behemoth: The second book in Scott Westerfield’s steampunk young adult series, published in 2010.

“Whom the Hebrues call Bemoth that doth in latin playne expresse / A beast rude full of cursednesse.“
—John Lydgate, Troy Book, II. xvii (1430)
“Behemoth, biggest born of earth.“
—John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667)
“[T]he unwieldy behemoths of the old economy are falling over each other to reinvent their identities.“
—Oliver Burkeman, “If the name fits…“ Guardian (January 8, 2001)
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
behemoth (bɪˈhiːmɒθ)
 
n
1.  Old Testament a gigantic beast, probably a hippopotamus, described in Job 40:15
2.  a huge or monstrous person or thing
 
[C14: from Hebrew běhēmōth, plural of běhēmāh beast]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

behemoth
late 14c., huge biblical beast (Job xl.15), from L. behemoth, from Heb. b'hemoth, usually taken as plural of intensity of b'hemah "beast." But the Heb. word is perhaps a folk etymology of Egyptian pehemau, lit. "water-ox," the name for the hippopotamus.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Easton
Bible Dictionary

Behemoth definition


(Job 40:15-24). Some have supposed this to be an Egyptian word meaning a "water-ox." The Revised Version has here in the margin "hippopotamus," which is probably the correct rendering of the word. The word occurs frequently in Scripture, but, except here, always as a common name, and translated "beast" or "cattle."

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
Despite people's fascination with this deep-sea behemoth, the giant squid's life and habits have remained largely a mystery.
It has also become the biggest company in the world by revenues, a behemoth
  that strikes fear in the hearts of rivals everywhere.
But because they don't come in big-screen versions their energy use may compare
  well against newer behemoth sets.
Every behemoth on the cover of the muscle mags is juicing.
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