1 of 2


mam·​moth ˈma-məth How to pronounce mammoth (audio)
: 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
: something immense of its kind
the company is a mammoth of the industry


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
Colossal Laboratories and Biosciences, which has been conducting radiocarbon dating and genetic sequencing of American mammoths, has shared fossils with 55 school districts in Alaska, the genetic engineering company exclusively told USA TODAY. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, 20 Aug. 2023 The tusk is believed to belong to a steppe mammoth from before the last ice age. Brittany Kasko, Fox News, 15 July 2023 For instance, studying the hormones in the teeth of mammoths and other extinct animals could potentially reveal pregnancies or stressful moments in the creatures’ lives. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 4 May 2023 Temperatures changed, severe droughts persisted, and food sources may have dwindled as animals like mammoths, mastodons, and giant sloths went extinct. Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 31 Aug. 2023 Until the cattle arrived, the island never had large terrestrial mammals, the kind of grazers and browsers that mold a landscape—mammoths, mastodons, deer, caribou. WIRED, 26 Aug. 2023 For Colossal, which has offices in Boston, Dallas and Austin, Texas, the project helps in its immediate goal of bringing back the mammoth, but also helps spread interest in science, says the company's founder and CEO Ben Lamm. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, 20 Aug. 2023 The mammoth's two tusks are more than 10 feet long and created with the help of Milwaukee Blacksmith, and the eyes are a set of 1929 Ford Model A headlights. Jr Radcliffe, Journal Sentinel, 26 July 2023 Exhibits include a full-size pterosaur, a wooly mammoth, and touchable wolves and bears. Victoria Barber, Anchorage Daily News, 10 July 2023
Located in downtown Memphis, Tennessee, the mammoth structure once held an arena for the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, 1 Sep. 2023 Like Bob Iger, Thompson is coming out of retirement to take on a Herculean task, managing a complex, mammoth media company at a time of mass disruption across the entire industry. Oliver Darcy, CNN, 30 Aug. 2023 That album’s mammoth 34-song track list echoed Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album, a bellwether for how country can juice its streaming numbers. Jeff Gage, Rolling Stone, 6 Sep. 2023 According to a development of regional impact (DRI) filing, the Cartersville project aims to start with a warehouse spanning nearly a third of a mile in length. Switch first came to Georgia in 2017, announcing a mammoth $2.5 billion data campus in Douglas County. Zachary Hansen, ajc, 1 Sep. 2023 Over the last few weeks, nearly 350 emergency personnel, plus 50 canines, have taken part in a mammoth search of the rubble of single-family homes and multistory apartments. Jenny Jarvie, Anchorage Daily News, 1 Sep. 2023 In 2022, after a mammoth corporate merger, CNN became a subsidiary in Warner Bros. Discovery, whose C.E.O., David Zaslav, wanted a news network that would attract less ire from centrists and conservatives. Clare Malone, The New Yorker, 1 Sep. 2023 Penn State returns five starting offensive linemen from a year ago including mammoth left tackle Olu Fashanu who opted to return rather than go pro after missing most of the back half of the season with a leg injury. Travis Johnson, Chicago Tribune, 21 Aug. 2023 That’s a view shared by a burgeoning clutch of influential American wonks, who argue that the United States’ mammoth contributions to Ukraine are undermining its ability to prepare Taiwan for a future Chinese invasion. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 23 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mammoth.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


1706, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1801, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of mammoth was in 1706

Dictionary Entries Near mammoth

Cite this Entry

“Mammoth.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
mam·​moth ˈmam-əth How to pronounce mammoth (audio)
: any of various large hairy extinct mammals of the elephant family with very long tusks that curve upward
: something very large of its kind
a company that is a mammoth of the industry


2 of 2 adjective
: very large : huge

More from Merriam-Webster on mammoth

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!