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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. 2015.
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Examples from the web for mastodon
  • Scientific instruments can show that the mastodon and pollen lived during the time of the last ice age.
  • When she tossed a mastodon over her shoulder, it receded into the distance.
  • Yellow saddle goatfish, mastodon ribs and more in this month's summary of wildlife news.
  • They found living bacteria that they believe had dwelled inside the mastodon.
  • Their adaptation required far-ranging seasonal migrations, following herds of megafauna such as the mammoth and mastodon.
  • Embedded in one of the mastodon's ribs was a broken piece of antler or bone resembling a spear point.
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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