mat·​tock ˈma-tək How to pronounce mattock (audio)
: a digging and grubbing tool with features of an adze and an ax or pick

Illustration of mattock

Illustration of mattock

Examples of mattock in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Shovels, picks or mattocks, and a wheelbarrow are best for clearing the ground. Nevin Martell, Washington Post, 19 July 2023 The mattock’s two ends can dig earth and tear roots. Noah Robertson, The Christian Science Monitor, 18 May 2022 Use a mattock to create a trench for mass planting. Adrian Higgins, Washington Post, 20 Sep. 2021 Hacking through thorny multiflora rose to get to stubborn bittersweet roots, then heaving a mattock into the earth to pull them up, can be exhausting. Stephanie Foo, Curbed, 11 Aug. 2021 For the gardener in your life, buy a five-gallon bucket and fill it with Felco pruners and a blade sharpener, root saw, folding pruning saw, weeder, soil scoop or trowel, mattock, garden tape, scissors and pliable garden gloves. oregonlive, 16 Dec. 2020 My preferred tool for planting in tight spots is the mattock, especially if the soil is on the poor side. Adrian Higgins, Washington Post, 21 Oct. 2020 On that night at the Hinterkaifeck farmstead, the farmer, his wife, their widowed daughter, two grandchildren aged 7 and 2, and the family maid, all were killed with a mattock, or pickaxe. Chris Jones,, 28 Jan. 2018 Start by using a shovel or garden mattock to remove any rocks from around the base of the stump. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, 1 Apr. 2015 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mattock.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English mattok, from Old English mattuc

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of mattock was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near mattock

Cite this Entry

“Mattock.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


mat·​tock ˈmat-ək How to pronounce mattock (audio)
: a tool for digging made of a long wooden handle and a steel head one end of which comes to a point or to a cutting edge
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