mam·​moth | \ ˈma-məth How to pronounce mammoth (audio) \

Definition of mammoth

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : any of a genus (Mammuthus) of extinct Pleistocene mammals of the elephant family distinguished from recent elephants by highly ridged molars, usually large size, very long tusks that curve upward, and well-developed body hair
2 : something immense of its kind the company is a mammoth of the industry



Definition of mammoth (Entry 2 of 2)

: of very great size

Choose the Right Synonym for mammoth


enormous, immense, huge, vast, gigantic, colossal, mammoth mean exceedingly large. enormous and immense both suggest an exceeding of all ordinary bounds in size or amount or degree, but enormous often adds an implication of abnormality or monstrousness. an enormous expense an immense shopping mall huge commonly suggests an immensity of bulk or amount. incurred a huge debt vast usually suggests immensity of extent. the vast Russian steppes gigantic stresses the contrast with the size of others of the same kind. a gigantic sports stadium colossal applies especially to a human creation of stupendous or incredible dimensions. a colossal statue of Lincoln mammoth suggests both hugeness and ponderousness of bulk. a mammoth boulder

Examples of mammoth in a Sentence

Noun even as sport-utility vehicles go, that one is a mammoth Adjective Renovating the house is a mammoth undertaking. a mammoth book with color plates of birds native to North America
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun To recover the mammoth, Zazula turned to two geologists, one with the Yukon Geological Survey and another with the University of Calgary. Diane Selkirk, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 July 2022 The government said miners working at Eureka Creek uncovered the mammoth while excavating through the permafrost. Rachel Paik, Fox News, 28 June 2022 Dan Shugar, a geomorphologist and associate professor at the University of Calgary, helped extract the mummified mammoth. Denise Chow, NBC News, 27 June 2022 Geologists from the Yukon Geological Survey and University of Calgary who recovered the frozen mammoth on site suggest that Nun cho ga died over 30,000 years ago and is an approximately one-year old female. David Bressan, Forbes, 25 June 2022 The baby mammoth may be in even better condition than Lyuba, a tailless calf found in Siberia in 2017. Diane Selkirk, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 July 2022 One camp held that the mammoth was among the first victims of anthropogenic extinction. Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker, 10 Jan. 2022 Sportman will focus on the discovery in 1913 of mastodon remains at the Hill-Stead estate of A.A. Pope in Farmington, and Kitchel will talk about remains of a wooly mammoth discovered in 1848 in Mount Holly, Vermont. Jesse Leavenworth,, 26 Mar. 2022 This particular specimen was likely a mammoth in its 30s, based off the degree of wear on the tooth, according to Widga. Zoe Sottile, CNN, 19 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective However, carbon-dating analysis on collagen extracted from the mammoth bones date the butchering site at around 36,250 to 38,900 years old. Saleen Martin, USA TODAY, 4 Aug. 2022 Aaron Judge of the Yankees hit a mammoth homer into the second deck, and it was caught by a Blue Jays fan. Houston Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 6 May 2022 Burger: After drawing mammoth crowds to occasional burger pop-ups at his Animales Barbeque Co., chef/owner Jon Wipfli decided to build a second truck that's devoted to burgers. Rick Nelson, Star Tribune, 25 June 2021 Two Florida scuba divers uncovered a mammoth bone possibly dating back to the Ice Age while diving in a local river, according to reports. Peter Aitken, Fox News, 2 May 2021 Likewise, the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in central Kyiv moved artifacts including Scythian weapons and an Ice Age mammoth tusk bracelet to secure spots, per Science magazine’s Andrew Curry. Jane Recker, Smithsonian Magazine, 30 Mar. 2022 Now experts have used the chemical composition of a 17,100-year-old mammoth tusk from Alaska to map out where the animal wandered during its lifetime. Esther Megbel, Scientific American, 9 Sep. 2021 The mammoth deal marked the largest acquisition of a tech company in L.A. history. Jack Flemming, Los Angeles Times, 7 July 2022 For this reason, officials warn people not to handle the mammoth snails without gloves. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 6 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mammoth.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of mammoth


1706, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1801, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for mammoth


borrowed from Dutch mammut, mammuth, borrowed from 17th-century Russian mamant, probably borrowed from a presumed compound in Mansi (Finno-Ugric language of western Siberia), in modern dialects māŋ-āńt, mē̮ŋ-ońt, mā͔ŋ-ont, mā͔ŋ-ā͔ńt, literally, "earth horn," referring to tusks of the wooly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) found in arctic and subarctic Siberia

Note: The Russian word mamant, later mamont "mammoth" is first attested as a component of the possessive adjective mamantovŭ, occurring in the phrases mamantova kostĭ "mammoth bone" (1578, in the account books of the Antonievo-Sijskij Monastery in the far north of European Russia) and rogŭ mamantovŭ "mammoth horn" (1609, in a list of Siberian exports). The earliest known Western European reflection of this phrase is apparently in communications from employees of the London-based Muscovy Company. Richard Finch, a member of an expedition to the Pechora River in 1611, wrote in a letter to the company that "… being at Pechora [Pustozersk], Oust Zilma, or any of those parts, there is in the Winter time to bee had among the Samoyeds, Elephants teeth, which they sell in pieces according as they get it, and not by weight …It is called in Russe, Mamanta Kaost" (Purchas His Pilgrimes …The Third Part, London, 1625, pp. 537-38). A more detailed definition is found in a glossary of Russian words collected by Richard James (1591-1638), chaplain to an English embassy to Muscovy, who spent the winter of 1618-19 at Kholmogory, inland from Arkhangel'sk on the White Sea: "maimanto, as they say a sea eleφant, which is never seene, but according to the Samȣites [Samoyeds] he workes himself under grownde and so they finde his teeth or bones in Pechore and Nova Zemla, of which they make table men [chess pieces] in Russia" (B.A. Larin, Russko-anglijskij slovar'-dnevnik Ričarda Džemsa (1618-1619 gg.), Leningrad, 1959, pp. 181-82). Neither of these attestations had any impact on later scientific discourse on the mammoth, or the future of the word in English; James' word book, an important source for early modern spoken Russian, was scarcely known before the 20th century, and not published in its entirety until 1959. More influential were forms somehow transmitted without the n, which first appear in the writing of the Dutch statesman and scholar Nicolaas Witsen (1641-1717). Witsen visited Russia in 1664-65, reaching Moscow, but not the regions where mammoth tusks were found, and the identity of his informant is uncertain. He rendered mamantova kostĭ as Mammotekoos in an incidental reference in his work on shipbuilding (Aeloude en hedendaegsche scheeps-bouw en bestier, Amsterdam, 1671; 2nd edition, 1690). He describes how, on the banks of rivers "in a certain region of Muscovy" ("in zeeker Moskovisch gewest"), waters would expose "heavy tusks, which people judged to be from elephants, washed there at the time of the Deluge and covered with earth; they were called Mammotekoos by the Russians, Mammot meaning in Russian a large terrible beast and koos bone" ("swaere tanden, die men oordeelt van Olifanten te zijn, ten tijde des zuntvloets daar gespoelt en met aerde overstolpt : zy worden by de Russen Mammotekoos genaemt, Mammot is gesegt op Rus een groot vervaerlijck dier en voos [i.e., koos] been" [p. 3]). Witsen added much more information in Noord en Oost Tartarye (1692), a massive compilation on the geography and history of Inner Eurasia; the words are now rendered Mammout and Mammouttekoos, and the tusks reported to have been found most often on the Ob' River in Siberia and the sea coasts ("Aen de Oby en Zee-kusten worden ze 't meest gevonden …"). Witsen's books had very limited circulation. This was not the case, however, with the report of another traveler, the Holstein-born merchant and entrepreneur Evert Ysbrants Ides (1657-1712 or 13), who traversed Siberia in 1692-93 as part of a trade mission to China sent by the Russian tsar Peter. Ides is presumed to have accompanied the tsar to Amsterdam in 1697-98. There, under the auspices, and perhaps editorship, of Witsen, his account of the journey became the book Driejaarige Reize naar China, published in 1704; translations soon appeared in English (1706) and German (1707). Ides spelled the word mammut and mammuth—the latter, adopted in the English translation, most likely the source of the th spelling in English. The ulterior origin of Russian mamant, mamont has provoked much discussion, summarized in Marek Stachowski's article "Das Wort Mammut in etymologischen Wörterbüchern," Folia Orientalia, vol. 36 (2000), pp. 301-14. The Mansi etymology above was first proposed by Michel Heaney, "The Implications of Richard James's maimanto," Oxford Slavonic Papers, vol. 9 (1976), pp. 102-09; it was amplified and corrected by the Uralic specialist Evgenij Xelimskij (Eugene Helimski) in "Rossica: ètimologičeskie zametki," Issledovanija po istoričeskoj grammatike i leksikologii, Moscow, 1990, pp. 30-42. Note that the proposed Mansi compound would exactly parallel the compound jǡ-n'ǡ͔mt "mammoth tusk," literally "land horn," in the Samoyedic language Nenets.


derivative of mammoth entry 1

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The first known use of mammoth was in 1706

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Last Updated

5 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Mammoth.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for mammoth


mam·​moth | \ ˈma-məth How to pronounce mammoth (audio) \

Kids Definition of mammoth

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a very large hairy extinct elephant with long tusks that curve upward



Kids Definition of mammoth (Entry 2 of 2)

: very large : huge a mammoth iceberg

More from Merriam-Webster on mammoth

Nglish: Translation of mammoth for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about mammoth


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