1. Something unusually large of its kind, especially a ship.
2. A very large animal, especially a whale.
3. A monstrous sea creature mentioned in the Bible.
[Middle English, huge biblical sea creature, from Late Latin, from Hebrew liwyātān; see lwy in the Appendix of Semitic roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.