Can behemoth be used as an adjective?
Yesterday I saw a TV add with showing panic in the streets as Godzilla-like dinosaur approaches from the background. Across that picture slashed the words, Behemoth! Collosal! Gargantuan!
I alwas thought of behemoth as a noun. Can it properly be used as an adjective?
Well, I wouldn't use it that way, and I don't think many people would (even if they were familiar with the word), but who knows... It's a bit hard to work out how to look for examples.
I tried "it's behemoth" and got a few definite and a few dubious -- I was looking for "it's Adj" (no article before it showing it wasn't being used as N) but got a certain number that should be "its behemoth" before another N.
For example we get "it's behemoth healthcare system", "it's behemoth 20 inch, 2 tone monitor", "it's behemoth gears", etc.
These don't count, since in that position it's probably just an appositive N. Whereas in your example, we're after genuine adjectives: we wouldn't say 'Colossus' in that position. I suppose 'colossus' has its adjective 'colossal' but there's nothing comparable for 'behemoth'.
Now, "as behemoth as" is a better test. Only 89 ghits, but many of them are actually using it in a slot that can only be functionally a true adjective. Ditto 43 hits for "more behemoth than". Actually there seem to be only three genuinely distinct examples there: in two of these it's a noun ("more Behemoth than man" and "more behemoth than boat"), and in just one it's a true adjective ("one is a little more
behemoth than the other").
These figures are tiny. Anything that scores that few hits is not English in anyone's terms.
Agreed. If the usage is to be supported, we must cast our net more broadly than the adjectival use in that particular phrase. And as you note, there's no easy search that gets all (or most) adjectival uses, without drowning them amid instances of noun usage.
But we can take a sample.
At the moment, google-news has 544 hits (gnhits?) plus the usual "some entries very similar to the 544 already displayed". As a sample I took google's summaries of the 100 it deems most relevant. Ninety-five are relevant to us (in the others, behemoth is the name of a music group, etc.), of which seven used 'behemoth' as an adjective.
So on a very rough guess, the word 'behemoth' is used as an adjective in about 7%+ of its usages. That would seem to be enough to make it dictionary-acceptable, once the dictionaries catch up with the world.
Here are the citations referred to above:
Sources Hartford Courant; San Diego Union Tribune; commercialappeal.com, TN; yourMovies, Australia; Globe and Mail, Canada; National Business Review, New Zealand; Massillon Independent, OH
There was a very silly Japanese movie about a gragantuan insect entitled, "Mothra" some years back. In answer to the query, "Be he moth?" one could answer yes, he be moth.
Asa, groaning at his own insipidity
That's why I was looking for examples of 'as X as' and 'more X than', because they show X is an adjective, whereas 'X N' doesn't. In 'X N' the X can just as easily be a noun:
the two riverboat casinos
beneath oil rigs
the two UK cable companies
within the County DHS
Tests for true adjectives include gradability (more, as, too, enough, very): and as well as the ones I quoted earlier we find rare instances of 'very behemoth' in the required sense ("sometimes someone will have a very behemoth opposite point of view") and 'too behemoth' ("as it just seemed too behemoth and not my target audience").
Another test is that adjectives are qualified by adverbs, as in 'surprisingly behemoth' (no hits), or 'completely behemoth' (one, "a completely behemoth game").
Another is that they can occur after be without an article: it is hot, cold, interesting... ("we have been assured
that it is behemoth", "as it is behemoth and deserving of a label as monstrous and unforgiving as the tune itself").
Actually I should clarify that I don't want to deny that those things in expressions like 'this behemoth corporation' are adjectives: they might well be; it's just that that syntax doesn't seem to give enough evidence. In a noun-noun combination N1 N2 the relationships can be various: apposition N1 = N2 ("my husband George", "the opera Carmen"), N2 belongs to or is part of N1 ("bat wings"), N1 is direct object of N2 ("balloon manufacturer"), N2 uses N1 ("sack race"), and so on. If 'behemoth' was still a noun in these examples it'd be appositive.
Probably 'giant' is an adjective in this situation, and words like 'behemoth' and 'leviathan' can be drafted in as synonyms by analogy, whereas 'colossus' is less likely to be as a real adjective form exists for that. However... Well well, there's just one hit for "this colossus corporation" and one for "this leviathan corporation", and two with 'colossal', but 300 with 'behemoth', against almost 1000 for 'giant'. So it does look like it is an adjective, patterning with 'giant'. And how odd about 'colossal'.
Quite agreed, aput, and in fact that is why I quoted the examples. I was aware of the problem, unsure how to resolve it, but confident that you'd know how. And as I rather expected, you were indeed able to resolve that ambiguity.