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[mat-uh k] /ˈmæt ək/
an instrument for loosening the soil in digging, shaped like a pickax, but having one end broad instead of pointed.
Origin of mattock
before 900; Middle English mattok, Old English mattuc Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for mattock
Historical Examples
  • Already with spade and mattock Rollo was filling up the grave, stamping down the soil with his foot as he proceeded.

    The Firebrand S. R. Crockett
  • As they passed the foot of the stairs, Macloud picked up a mattock.

    In Her Own Right John Reed Scott
  • On the day that his term of service expired he rose early, and with his mattock dislodged the stones of the hearth.

  • The mattock and the plow Will take the place of Pan and Satyr now.

    Conservation Reader Harold W. Fairbanks
  • While the fox hung over one shoulder, his mattock balanced it on the other.

    Stories of Animal Sagacity W.H.G. Kingston
  • Pressley, unlashing a mattock and shovel from his pack, did not notice him.

    A Tar-Heel Baron Mabell Shippie Clarke Pelton
  • Close at his heels came three laborers walking abreast, with spade and mattock over their shoulders.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Then lift each plant with a spade or mattock slowly and skillfully.

  • He was a sort of laboring man, who wore a waistcoat with large pockets and carried a mattock under his arm.

    Les Misrables Victor Hugo
  • Instead the party carried the body to the mattock place where it was interred.

    The Spirit Lake Massacre Thomas Teakle
British Dictionary definitions for mattock


a type of large pick that has one end of its blade shaped like an adze, used for loosening soil, cutting roots, etc
Word Origin
Old English mattuc, of unknown origin; related to Latin mateola club, mallet
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 mattock

Old English mættoc, probably from Vulgar Latin *matteuca "club," related to Latin mateola, a kind of mallet (see mace (n.1)), but this is not certain, and synonymous Russian motyka, Lithuanian matikkas suggest other possibilities. OED says similar words in Welsh and Gaelic are from English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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