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

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 Six-year-old Julian Gangon discovered a mastodon tooth while taking a walk with his family at the Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Rachael Scott, CNN, 8 Oct. 2021 For decades, paleontologists, archaeologists and ecologists have been debating about the fate of animals such as the American mastodon and saber-toothed cats. Riley Black, Scientific American, 23 Sep. 2021 If people were living down there 14,500 years ago, their ancestors probably began their southward trip from Beringia, the region connecting Siberia, Alaska, and the Yukon, well before the Clovis people speared their first American mastodon. Ross Andersen, The Atlantic, 7 Sep. 2021 But term limits transformed Sacramento not into a Greek-style agora of free men, but a swamp where Republican fortunes have sunk ever since like a mastodon in the La Brea tar pits. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, 2 Apr. 2021 Travel retail has grown into a mastodon, with annual sales of $86bn before the pandemic hit. The Economist, 27 Feb. 2021 Struggling financially, Peale unsuccessfully lobbied for public support for his museum where kept his mastodon. Hans-dieter Sues, Smithsonian Magazine, 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, 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, 12 Sep. 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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The first known use of mastodon was in 1811

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Cite this Entry

“Mastodon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of mastodon

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

More from Merriam-Webster on mastodon

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


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