Please consider this clause:

a trade behemoth that shipped abroad $800 billion worth of goods

According to Longman dictionary, "behemoth" is a noun that means something very large. Additionally, the word "trade" as a noun is defined as a type of business or a particular job. The quoted clause I referred to is the example that Longman provides to illustrate the usage of the word "behemoth".

Nevertheless, it only baffled me. I failed to understand this example, because I don't know how I'm supposed to interpret the meaning of two nouns ("trade" and "behemoth") when they come consecutively. So, could you please explain the meaning of the phrase "trade behemoth" in this context?

  • 1
    FYI "behemoth" as a literal word is a creature described in the Bible, Job 40:15-24, that sounds a lot like a sauropod dinosaur. The word is sometimes used metaphorically to mean anything very large. It is not a general word for "big thing" -- that's a metaphor.
    – Jay
    Aug 13, 2013 at 14:01

2 Answers 2


The initial noun, trade, is acting as an attributive noun, modifying the following noun to narrow its focus.

Based on the definitions that you looked up, then, you can deduce that a "Trade Behemoth" is something that is very large, but it is only large in comparison to other entities that also engage in some type of business.

From the snippet given, I gather that it is a multinational corporation that is probably the largest in its particular industry (which I would guess is shipping, although I'd want a bit more context to be sure).

It might be referring to FedEx or UPS, two well-known and very large worldwide shipping companies; similarly, you could refer to IBM or HP as "computing behemoths", or Google as a "search behemoth".

  • 4
    Or, a trade behemoth could be a nation engaged in a lot of exports, like Singapore, e.g. As you said, though, without further context, it's hard to speculate, and impossible to know for sure.
    – J.R.
    Aug 12, 2013 at 18:07
  • I think it's more likely he meant a country, large manufacturer, or other economic unit that produces a large quantity of exports. But as you say, you'd have to read the context.
    – Jay
    Aug 13, 2013 at 14:02
  • You guys are probably right, it just didn't occur to me on the initial read-through.
    – Hellion
    Aug 15, 2013 at 14:20

A "behemoth" is an animal described in the Bible, Job 40:15, most notably as being extremely large, "tail like a cedar tree", probably a sauropod dinosaur. The word is sometimes used to represent anything very large.

"Trade" here appears to refer to the act of buying and selling. Yes, "trade" can mean a particular industry or occupation, like, "He learned the trade of carpentry", but that meaning does not make sense here.

So a "trade behemoth" is some entity that does a huge amount of buying and/or selling -- the sentence goes on to say, $800 billion. I'd guess it's referring to a nation, though it could be talking about a very big company. (Well, according to this -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_companies_by_revenue -- the company with the biggest sales is Wal-Mart, at $482 billion, presumably only a fraction of that "shipped abroad", so this quote is probably talking about an entire nation and not one company.)

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