Word: behemoth

Pronunciation: bi-HEE-məth / BEE-ə-məth

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: a huge or monstrous creature

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Continuing from last week’s post on the word “leviathan“, here’s a complementary word for another type of giant monster. If there’s a name for a titanic water-dwelling beast, it stands to reason that there should also be a name for a colossal land-based creature. Once again, mythology provides us with one such name: the great “Behemoth”.

A “behemoth” is basically a creature of monstrous proportion. The word comes from the Hebrew noun bĕhēmōṯ, the intensive plural form of bĕhēmāh, which means “beast”. It has a notable reference in the Bible as a massive creature God shows to Job to prove the point that His might is unmatched by anything mortal (Job 40:15-24).

While the official dictionary entry for “Behemoth” doesn’t specify its habitat as terrestrial, some legends identify it as the male earth-dwelling complement to the female sea monster “Leviathan”. In the same way the latter most likely represented a whale or crocodile, the former may have been equated to such creatures as an elephant, a hippopotamus, a rhinoceros, or even (according to certain theories) a dinosaur. Also similar to “leviathan”, in modern language, “behemoth” can be used as a metaphor for anything enormous and powerful, especially a company or organization. If you tend to write plenty of titanic entities into your stories, “behemoth” may be the word you’re looking for! Good luck!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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