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



Definition of mammoth (Entry 2 of 2)

: of very great size

Choose the Right Synonym for mammoth


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
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Neal, a mammoth 6-foot-7, 335-pounder who has played both tackle positions at Alabama, is likely to fit right in with a line that has been a weakness in New York for years. Mark Heim |, al, 28 Apr. 2022 Several dilapidated versions of real-life landmarks make appearances, like San Francisco’s Lombard Street and the Golden Gate Bridge, as do massive new enemy robots like a hulking mammoth and snapping turtle. Washington Post, 17 Apr. 2020 But the edges of the state were exposed -- and these areas tend to turn up mammoth remains. Zoe Sottile, CNN, 19 Mar. 2022 As an example, Lindsey cites the sculpture of a Columbian mammoth sinking into the Lake Pit outside the La Brea Tar Pits Museum—a portrayal that could perpetuate the misconception that asphalt pools were like quicksand. Sam Jones, Scientific American, 10 Mar. 2022 Mammoths arrived on what is now North America around one million years ago and evolved into the Columbian mammoth, which stood over 14-feet tall and weighed around 20,000 pounds, according to the National Park Service. Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY, 29 Nov. 2021 The size of Twitter pales in comparison to a mammoth like YouTube, but the company also reported advertising revenue in the billions on Tuesday. Oliver Darcy, CNN, 27 Oct. 2021 The iconic mammoth—woolly or Columbian—has received considerably more attention and research until recently. Jeanne Timmons, Ars Technica, 22 Dec. 2021 These measurements confirmed the initial results: The oldest footprints at the site — left by an adult human and a mammoth — were located below a seed bed dating back about 22,800 years. New York Times, 23 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Even if prices were high enough to make such trips worthwhile, many shipping companies would likely shy away from the mammoth task for fear of being hit by sanctions. Sophie Mellor, Fortune, 4 May 2022 The company was founded in 1966 when the Soviet Union built a mammoth factory on the banks of the Volga River and renamed the city that mushroomed around it after Palmiro Togliatti, the leader of Italy’s Communist Party at the time. Nick Kostov, WSJ, 27 Apr. 2022 Now the mammoth complex surrounded by acres of parking is on track to join the ranks of malls making a transition into a booming economic sector: medicine. Kaiser Health News, oregonlive, 26 Apr. 2022 Now the mammoth complex surrounded by acres of parking is on track to join the ranks of malls making a transition into a booming economic sector: medicine. Blake Farmer, Fortune, 25 Apr. 2022 Despite their size, these mammoth creatures will surprise you with their playfulness. Hoogle Zoo, The Salt Lake Tribune, 25 Apr. 2022 In the Heart of the Sea (Hulu) In 1820, crewmen aboard the New England vessel Essex face a harrowing battle for survival when a whale of mammoth size and strength attacks with force, crippling their ship and leaving them adrift in the ocean. Travis Bean, Forbes, 22 Apr. 2022 Snag a west-facing room with floor-to-ceiling windows, or head 13 stories up to Bar Julian and watch mammoth container ships from far-flung ports slide quietly past, day and night. Travel + Leisure, 12 Apr. 2022 For this year’s Venice Biennale, Mr. Kiefer has made paintings mammoth as movie screens that hang in front of the old masterpieces in the Palace’s Sala dello Scrutinio, appearing as if the doges themselves had commissioned them. Laura Rysman, WSJ, 8 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of mammoth


1706, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1801, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for mammoth


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.


derivative of mammoth entry 1

Learn More About mammoth

Time Traveler for mammoth

Time Traveler

The first known use of mammoth was in 1706

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near mammoth



Mammoth Cave

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for mammoth

Last Updated

1 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Mammoth.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for mammoth


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



Kids Definition of mammoth (Entry 2 of 2)

: very large : huge a mammoth iceberg

More from Merriam-Webster on mammoth

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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