mas·​to·​don | \ ˈma-stə-ˌdän How to pronounce mastodon (audio) , -dən \

Definition of mastodon

1 : any of various extinct mammals (genus Mammut synonym Mastodon) of the elephant family existing from the Miocene through the Pleistocene that are distinguished from the related mammoths chiefly by molar teeth with cone-shaped cusps
2 : one that is unusually large

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from mastodon

mastodonic \ ˌma-​stə-​ˈdä-​nik How to pronounce mastodonic (audio) \ adjective
mastodont \ ˈma-​stə-​ˌdänt How to pronounce mastodont (audio) \ adjective or noun

Examples of mastodon in a Sentence

mom-and-pop stores just can't compete with these mastodons of retailing
Recent Examples on the Web The loss of large animals like mammoths, mastodons and giant ground sloths has been somewhat evenly spread over all the continents — except Africa, which has lost less than 20% of its large animals. Anchorage Daily News, "What killed the world’s giants?," 23 Nov. 2019 This climate event, called the Younger Dryas by scientists, marked the beginning of a decline in ice-age megafauna, such as mammoth and mastodon, eventually leading to extinction of more than 35 genera of animals across North America. Christopher R. Moore, The Conversation, "New evidence that an extraterrestrial collision 12,800 years ago triggered an abrupt climate change for Earth," 22 Oct. 2019 Don’t miss the mastodon molar or the oil painting of Hylan Plaza (really). New York Times, "A Very Full Day at Snug Harbor on Staten Island (and Where to Eat and Drink Nearby)," 28 Aug. 2019 Get our daily newsletter A talking gun and mastodons in New Jersey are among the oddities that Ismail, known as Quichotte, encounters during the road trip at the heart of this tricksy narrative. The Economist, "Salman Rushdie’s new novel is a metafictional romp," 5 Sep. 2019 Then Jiminy Cricket pops up — yep — and another town is overrun with mastodons. Ron Charles, Washington Post, "Salman Rushdie’s ‘Quichotte’ is a shambling ‘Don Quixote’ for our deceptive era," 3 Sep. 2019 This encourages frequent short visits, which are the best way to view masterpieces or mastodons. Mona Charen, National Review, "Life in D.C.," 22 Aug. 2019 According to Ohio History Central, both mastodon and mammoth fossils have been found around the state. Amanda Jackson, CNN, "A 12-year-old snags a mammoth discovery while on vacation in Ohio," 14 Aug. 2019 The following year, three boys in Mississippi dug up a mastodon fossil believed to be almost 100,000 years old. Fox News, "Woolly mammoth tooth discovered in Ohio creek by 12-year-old boy," 14 Aug. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of mastodon

1811, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for mastodon

borrowed from New Latin Mastodont-, Mastodon, genus name, Latinization of French mastodonte, vernacular name for the animal, from Greek mastós "breast, nipple" (probably from a pre-Greek substratal language) + French -odonte -odont; so named from the nipple-like cusps on the crowns of the molar teeth

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about mastodon

Time Traveler for mastodon

Time Traveler

The first known use of mastodon was in 1811

See more words from the same year

Statistics for mastodon

Last Updated

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Mastodon.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 9 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for mastodon


How to pronounce mastodon (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of mastodon

: a type of animal that was related to the mammoth and that lived in ancient times

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on mastodon

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mastodon

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mastodon

Spanish Central: Translation of mastodon

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

Comments on mastodon

What made you want to look up mastodon? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


contradictory or incongruous words

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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