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

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Other Words from mastodon

mastodonic \ ˌma-​stə-​ˈdä-​nik How to pronounce mastodon (audio) \ adjective
mastodont \ ˈma-​stə-​ˌdänt How to pronounce mastodon (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 Struggling financially, Peale unsuccessfully lobbied for public support for his museum where kept his mastodon. Hans-dieter Sues, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Story of Charles Willson Peale’s Massive Mastodon," 6 May 2020 Experts study the mastodon remains and remove those still inside the mine, where a complete tusk measuring 1 meter 10 centimeters (3.5 feet) long can still be seen. Reuters, CNN, "Mastodon fossil discovered in Colombian gold mine," 24 Sep. 2020 The champagne-toevening-gowns mastodon, home to Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, among many others, had disclosed a stake of 17% and rising. The Economist, "Schumpeter How Hermès got away from LVMH—and thrived," 12 Sep. 2020 Another shared photo was an aerial photo of a mastodon excavation in 2000 in Hyde Park, New York. Mckenzie Sadeghi, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Online post showing giant human skeletons is an old hoax," 9 Sep. 2020 Genetic diversity could shrink as animals venture into new territories because of global heating, leaving them vulnerable to extinction, scientists have warned after tracking the impact of climate change on the American mastodon. Nicola Davis, Wired, "Climate Change Drove the American Mastodon to Extinction," 5 Sep. 2020 Today the stately mastodon sits waiting for crowds to return. Alicia Ault, Smithsonian Magazine, "This Mastodon is a Centerpiece of an Art Exhibition. Why?," 1 May 2020 Alexander von Humboldt had collected teeth of another species of mastodon in Ecuador and forwarded them to Cuvier for study. Hans-dieter Sues, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Story of Charles Willson Peale’s Massive Mastodon," 6 May 2020 The mammoth that helped start Humboldt’s conversation with Jefferson, a mammoth that was actually a mastodon, reminds us of how quickly cultural symbols and identity can be made and remade. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, "What do Thomas Jefferson, a mastodon skeleton and Alexander von Humboldt have in common? The answer is locked inside the Smithsonian.," 1 July 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for mastodon

Time Traveler

The first known use of mastodon was in 1811

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Last Updated

16 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Mastodon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

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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

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