• synonyms


[mat-uh k]
  1. an instrument for loosening the soil in digging, shaped like a pickax, but having one end broad instead of pointed.
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Origin of mattock

before 900; Middle English mattok, Old English mattuc
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for mattock

Historical Examples

  • Then lift each plant with a spade or mattock slowly and skillfully.

    The Mayflower, January, 1905


  • The stone yielded, and he proceeded to work with the mattock.


    Thophile Gautier

  • As they passed the foot of the stairs, Macloud picked up a mattock.

    In Her Own Right

    John Reed Scott

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

    Conservation Reader

    Harold W. Fairbanks

  • If the blade of the mattock is deformed, it should be straightened in a vise.

British Dictionary definitions for mattock


  1. a type of large pick that has one end of its blade shaped like an adze, used for loosening soil, cutting roots, etc
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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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper