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[mas-tuh-don] /ˈmæs təˌdɒn/
a massive, elephantlike mammal of the genus Mammut (Mastodon), that flourished worldwide from the Miocene through the Pleistocene epochs and, in North America, into recent times, having long, curved upper tusks and, in the male, short lower tusks.
a person of immense size, power, influence, etc.
Origin of mastodon
1805-15; < New Latin < Greek mast(ós) breast + odṓn tooth
Related forms
mastodonic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for mastodon
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was only towards the middle of the last century that the mastodon first attracted attention in Europe.

  • Forepaugh had a mastodon up his sleeve for everybody else's elephant.

    Nights Elizabeth Robins Pennell
  • mastodon, one of an extinct species of mammals akin to the elephant.

    The Nuttall Encyclopaedia Edited by Rev. James Wood
  • No mastodon steak for them, Dolly; no nice wing-bone of ictiosaurus—they starved.

    The Trimming of Goosie James Hopper
  • The mastodon was a giant elephant of a still earlier period than the mammoth.

  • The mastodon staggered, then regained his stride and went rushing on.

    Project Mastodon Clifford Donald Simak
  • At Blanket Creek, near Sonora, stone relics and bones of the mastodon were found together in 1855.

  • The mastodon only differed essentially from the Elephant in his dental apparatus.

    The Desert World Arthur Mangin
  • The mastodon is extinct, according to the scientists, but they are alive in Alaska.

British Dictionary definitions for mastodon


any extinct elephant-like proboscidean mammal of the genus Mammut (or Mastodon), common in Pliocene times
Derived Forms
mastodontic, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from New Latin, literally: breast-tooth, referring to the nipple-shaped projections on the teeth
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for mastodon

1813, from Modern Latin genus name Mastodon (1806), coined by French naturalist Georges Léopole Chrétien Frédéric Dagobert, Baron Cuvier (1769-1832) from Greek mastos "breast" (see masto-) + -odon "tooth" (see tooth); so called from the nipple-like projections on the crowns of the extinct mammal's fossil molars. Related: Mastodontic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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mastodon in Science
Any of several extinct mammals of the genus Mastodon (or Mammut). Mastodons resembled elephants and mammoths except that their molar teeth had conelike cusps rather than parallel ridges for grinding. Like elephants, mastodons had a pair of long, curved tusks growing from their upper jaw, but males also sometimes had a second pair from the lower jaw. Like mammoths, mastodons were covered with hair. They lived from the Oligocene Epoch to the end of the Ice Age.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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