mammoth

noun
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

mammoth

adjective

Definition of mammoth (Entry 2 of 2)

: of very great size

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Choose the Right Synonym for mammoth

Adjective

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Their descendants, among them mammoths, went out of Africa to inhabit other continents. Paul Manger, Quartz Africa, "Elephants evolved larger brains partly thanks to climate change, say scientists," 28 June 2019 Some of these giant carnivores from the Ice Age were able to hunt mammoths. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Ancient Europeans lived alongside a half-ton bird nearly 12 feet tall," 26 June 2019 Guides Jeremy Carberry and Kyle Fischler looked after us, pointing out sea urchins and keyhole limpets and invoking the days when pygmy mammoths roamed the island (yes, really). Christopher Reynolds, latimes.com, "On Santa Cruz, California’s largest island, foxes play and a traffic jam is 6 kayaks," 9 June 2019 Valery Plotnikov, a top researcher at the local branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the animal belonged to an ancient subspecies of wolf that lived at the same time as the mammoths and became extinct alongside them. Washington Post, "Perfectly preserved head of Ice Age wolf found in Siberia," 14 June 2019 The animal lived alongside the mammoths, and both species became extinct at the same time, according to Valery Plotnikov, a researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences, the AP reported. Matt Mcnulty, PEOPLE.com, "40,000-Year-Old Preserved Wolf's Head from Ice Age Discovered in Siberia," 14 June 2019 Much more recently, mammoths lived throughout North America and became extinct about 4,000 years ago. Phil Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Whale fossil found at Oceanside resort construction site," 9 June 2019 Pat Druckenmiller, director of the University of Alaska Museum of the North, said after the theft that mammoths generally died out at the end of the Pleistocene Era 11,000 to 12,000 years ago. Dan Joling, The Seattle Times, "Alaska man sentenced for stealing fossilized mammoth tusk," 11 Apr. 2019 Pat Druckenmiller, earth sciences curator at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, said mammoths generally died out at the end of the Pleistocene Era 11,000 to 12,000 years ago. Washington Post, "Theft of mammoth proportions: Agency seeks stolen tusk," 19 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Álvarez finished 3-for-4 for a second straight day, sandwiching two singles around his mammoth home run. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Jack Mayfield, Yordan Álvarez spark Astros over Blue Jays," 15 June 2019 Speakers beneath the floor rumble with thunderous sounds of glaciers calving, like a keening mammoth. Cate Mcquaid, BostonGlobe.com, "An otherworldy Arctic landscape, in a beautiful and troubling exhibit," 9 May 2018 These new organisms were too big to be eaten, and their mammoth size allowed them to pull in more food from the environment. Quanta Magazine, "Life’s Secrets Sought in a Snowflake," 3 Nov. 2015 Most olives take their names from their place of origin, such as the gorgeously green, mammoth, sweet and fruity Castelvetrano (Sicily) or the small, dark brown Nicoise (Nice, France). Bill St. John, The Denver Post, "Marinating olives, Sicilian style and simply," 12 June 2019 The site, which was found during construction of a new bypass in Drasenhofen on the Czech border, contains mammoth tusks and bones. James Rogers, Fox News, "Elephant bird mystery solved? Discovery may explain demise of world's largest-ever birds," 13 Sep. 2018 The rocky cave doubles as an undersea redoubt, like those little castles made for a kid’s aquarium but here blown up to mammoth size. Christopher Knight, latimes.com, "Lauren Halsey takes a fantastic voyage in MOCA's 'we still here, there'," 24 May 2018 Hailstones larger than tennis balls began to fall from the sky, eventually growing to mammoth size. Matthew Cappucci, Washington Post, "Giant hail pummeled an Argentine city Thursday, possibly a Southern Hemisphere record," 9 Feb. 2018 In a world full of widebody airliners including the Airbus A380, people forget the 747’s mammoth size and its status as a prestige aircraft. Eric Tegler, Popular Mechanics, "Why the 747 Is Such a Badass Plane," 17 Jan. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of mammoth

Noun

1706, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1801, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for mammoth

Noun

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.

Adjective

derivative of mammoth entry 1

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Statistics for mammoth

Last Updated

4 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for mammoth

The first known use of mammoth was in 1706

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More Definitions for mammoth

mammoth

noun

English Language Learners Definition of mammoth

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a type of large, hairy elephant that lived in ancient times and that had very long tusks that curved upward
: something that is very large

mammoth

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of mammoth (Entry 2 of 2)

: very large

mammoth

noun
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

mammoth

adjective

Kids Definition of mammoth (Entry 2 of 2)

: very large : huge a mammoth iceberg

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More from Merriam-Webster on mammoth

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mammoth

Spanish Central: Translation of mammoth

Nglish: Translation of mammoth for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about mammoth

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