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

Miners sometimes told scientists of their discoveries, and researchers, often UAF’s Otto Geist, would sometimes recover the bones of mammoths and other remains of ancient animals. Anchorage Daily News, "Mummy squirrel tells of a different Alaska 20,000 years ago," 24 Aug. 2019 Instead, the abundant fossils of mammoths and other large grazers at Duvanny Yar and other sites told Zimov that Siberia, Alaska, and western Canada had been fertile grasslands, rich with herbs and willows. Katie Orlinsky, National Geographic, "Arctic permafrost is thawing fast. That affects us all.," 16 Aug. 2019 In 1901, the first woolly mammoth discovered whole in the permafrost emerged from a riverbank near Srednekolymsk, an event immortalized with a stylized red mammoth on the town’s shield. Neil Macfarquhar, New York Times, "Russian Land of Permafrost and Mammoths Is Thawing," 4 Aug. 2019 Humanity has survived mammoths, malaria, and atom bombs. William Poundstone, Vox, "A math equation that predicts the end of humanity," 5 July 2019 To find out more about the evolutionary history of LIF and its duplicates, Lynch found their counterparts in the genomes of closely related species: manatees, hyraxes and extinct mammoths and mastodons. Quanta Magazine, "A Zombie Gene Protects Elephants From Cancer," 7 Nov. 2017 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

His second inning shot landed in the third deck of right-field seats, a mammoth solo blast that traveled where few baseballs ever have. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros keep rolling, dismantle Athletics," 9 Sep. 2019 The largest iteration of Audrey II squats upon the stage like a mammoth, leprous frog — a spectacle that is practically worth the price of admission all by itself. Don Aucoin, BostonGlobe.com, "Lyric Stage’s ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ is a garden of grisly delights," 6 Sep. 2019 This mammoth, likely blockbuster exhibition is the first major American retrospective in more than three decades on the last century’s most influential American artist. Steve Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "Fall preview: Andy Warhol and the first Botanic Garden holiday lights fest make for an exciting season at Chicago-area museums," 5 Sep. 2019 There are familiar faces to be found in this mammoth debut — the original Human Torch, the Sub-Mariner — but this is a very different, very pulpy version of the universe that fans have come to love. Graeme Mcmillan, The Hollywood Reporter, "80 Comics to Read For Marvel's 80th Anniversary," 31 Aug. 2019 Nelson Cruz hit the record-tying homer, a mammoth 450-foot blast into the shrubbery in straightaway center off reliever Buck Farmer in the eighth. Dana Gauruder, Twin Cities, "Twins break home run record with 268, but Tigers end their winning streak," 31 Aug. 2019 Despite years of experience in the saddle, the mammoth nature and unpredictability of the task forced Long to dig deep and rely solely on his own volition. Ben Church, CNN, "Meet the oldest winner of the world's longest horse race," 30 Aug. 2019 The bribery scandal that embroiled not only Samsung, but many other of Korea’s biggest companies, was part of the mammoth influence-peddling scandal that eventually brought down former president Park following months of sustained protests. Jane Li, Quartz, "Samsung just can’t leave South Korea’s worst influence-peddling scandal behind," 29 Aug. 2019 Historically, there have been major hurdles to producing mammoth computer chips like the one Feldman and his team of over 200 are designing, manufacturing, and, yes, selling. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "This Is the World's Largest Computer Chip," 27 Aug. 2019

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

29 Aug 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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