• synonyms


[mas-tif, mah-stif]
  1. one of a breed of large, powerful, short-haired dogs having an apricot, fawn, or brindled coat.
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Origin of mastiff

1300–50; Middle English mastif, perhaps extracted from Anglo-French masti(n)s (taken as *mastifs), plural of Old French mastin < Vulgar Latin (canis) *ma(n)suētīnus, derivative of Latin mansuētus tame, mild (see mansuetude)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for mastiff

Historical Examples

  • The piece which the mastiff had torn from his hose did not discourage Boxtel.

    The Black Tulip

    Alexandre Dumas (Pere)

  • She cared so little for him, by the way, that she called him her "mastiff."

  • Ramiro looked at his interlocutor, as the mastiff may look at the lap dog.

    The Shame of Motley

    Raphael Sabatini

  • He was very wayward at times, but always faithful as a mastiff dog to me.

  • The "mastiff" epithet stuck like a barb in my boyish chivalry.

British Dictionary definitions for mastiff


  1. an old breed of large powerful short-haired dog, usually fawn or brindle with a dark mask
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Word Origin

C14: from Old French, ultimately from Latin mansuētus tame; see mansuetude
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

Word Origin and History for mastiff


large, powerful breed of dog, early 14c., from Old French mastin (Modern French mâtin) or Provençal mastis, both from Vulgar Latin *mansuetinus "domesticated, tame," from Latin mansuetus "tame, gentle" (see mansuetude). Probably originally meaning a dog that stays in the house, thus a guard-dog. Form in English perhaps influenced by Old French mestif "mongrel."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper