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[juhg-er-nawt, -not] /ˈdʒʌg ərˌnɔt, -ˌnɒt/
(often lowercase) any large, overpowering, destructive force or object, as war, a giant battleship, or a powerful football team.
(often lowercase) anything requiring blind devotion or cruel sacrifice.
Also called Jagannath. an idol of Krishna, at Puri in Odisha, India, annually drawn on an enormous cart under whose wheels devotees are said to have thrown themselves to be crushed.
Origin of Juggernaut
1630-40; < Hindi Jagannāth < Sanskrit Jagannātha lord of the world (i.e., the god Vishnu or Krishna), equivalent to jagat world + nātha lord
Related forms
Juggernautish, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for Juggernaut
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Beneath the car of this Juggernaut we must flout our judgments and crush our affections.

  • What, after all, was the old god of the river to the Juggernaut of the city?

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine
  • And that car of Juggernaut, and drowning their poor little babies!

    A Little Girl in Old Salem

    Amanda Minnie Douglas
  • "Juggernaut," another word of Paklin's, flashed across his mind.

    Virgin Soil Ivan S. Turgenev
  • What a car of Juggernaut to roll over one, small, masterless terrier!

    Greyfriars Bobby Eleanor Atkinson
British Dictionary definitions for Juggernaut


any terrible force, esp one that destroys or that demands complete self-sacrifice
(Brit) a very large lorry for transporting goods by road, esp one that travels throughout Europe


noun (Hinduism)
a crude idol of Krishna worshipped at Puri and throughout Odisha (formerly Orissa) and Bengal. At an annual festival the idol is wheeled through the town on a gigantic chariot and devotees are supposed to have formerly thrown themselves under the wheels
a form of Krishna miraculously raised by Brahma from the state of a crude idol to that of a living god
Word Origin
C17: from Hindi Jagannath, from Sanskrit Jagannātha lord of the world (that is, Vishnu, chief of the Hindu gods), from jagat world + nātha lord
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for Juggernaut



1630s, "huge wagon bearing an image of the god Krishna," especially that at the town of Puri, drawn annually in procession in which (apocryphally) devotees allowed themselves to be crushed under its wheels in sacrifice. Altered from Jaggernaut, a title of Krishna (an incarnation of Vishnu), from Hindi Jagannath, literally "lord of the world," from Sanskrit jagat "world" (literally "moving," present participle of *jagati "he goes," from PIE *gwa- "to go, come" (see come (v.)) + natha-s "lord, master," from nathate "he helps, protects," from PIE *na- "to help." The first European description of the festival is by Friar Odoric (c.1321). Figurative sense of "anything that demands blind devotion or merciless sacrifice" is from 1854.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Juggernaut in Culture
Juggernaut [(jug-uhr-nawt)]

A deity in Hinduism, considered a deliverer from sin. His image is carried on a large wagon in an annual procession in India, and according to legend the wagon crushed worshipers who threw themselves under it.

Note: A force, an idea, or a system of beliefs that overcomes opposition — especially if it does so ruthlessly — is called a “juggernaut.”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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