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[mas-tif, mah-stif] /ˈmæs tɪf, ˈmɑ stɪf/
one of a breed of large, powerful, short-haired dogs having an apricot, fawn, or brindled coat.
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) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for mastiff
Historical Examples
  • First thing I knew I heard Bertha calling at the top of her little voice to the mastiff.

  • In size, the largest does not exceed the dimensions of an English mastiff.

    The Western World W.H.G. Kingston
  • The mastiff Bow-wow had accompanied his mistress to her new home; but Bow-wow's best days were done.

    Aurora Floyd, Vol. I (of 3) M. E. (Mary Elizabeth) Braddon
  • As it was he growled over the meat like a mastiff in bad humor.

    A Black Adonis Linn Boyd Porter
  • As for Fessenden's, then, he was less fortunate than the Judge's mastiff.

  • He was, in fact, a blood-hound, with the cross of a mastiff—a powerful animal.

    The Boy Hunters Captain Mayne Reid
  • Unlike the bull-dog, the mastiff always warns before he attacks.

    Anecdotes of Dogs Edward Jesse
  • The piece which the mastiff had torn from his hose did not discourage Boxtel.

    The Black Tulip Alexandre Dumas (Pere)
  • I have known of the cross between them and the mastiff being taught to follow the scent of a man almost as truly as a bloodhound.

    Dog Breaking William Nelson Hutchinson
  • Ramiro looked at his interlocutor, as the mastiff may look at the lap dog.

    The Shame of Motley Raphael Sabatini
British Dictionary definitions for mastiff


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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