Definition of mastodon in English:



  • A large extinct elephant-like mammal of the Miocene to Pleistocene epochs, having teeth of a relatively primitive form and number.

    • ‘Mammoth and mastodon teeth have been dredged from 40 sites along the continental shelf off the eastern US in water up to 120 m deep.’
    • ‘Pretty much everywhere you look, you find evidence of big critters roaming the earth - mastodons, mammoths, big camels, and my favorite, beavers the size of black bears.’
    • ‘Clues from bones tell a remarkable story of an Ice Age drought, where mastodons (relatives of the mammoths) undertook huge migrations just to survive the seasons.’
    • ‘From mammoths and mastodons the Clovis foragers would have learned much about edible wild plants.’
    • ‘What killed the saber-toothed tiger, the mastodon and the mammoth, formidable animals that were on top of the food chain in North America 20,000 years ago?’
    • ‘The fossils they found included mastodons - early relatives of the elephant - primitive horses, rhino and even early camels, as well as crocodiles, giant armadillos, turtles and ground sloths long since extinct.’
    • ‘‘But as scientists, paleontologists, we are all aware that a mammoth or mastodon being extinct is not the same as a living form,’ he said.’
    • ‘Yet a number of the large animal species found at La Brea are no longer found in North America: native horses, camels, mammoths and mastodons, longhorned bison, and sabre-toothed cats.’
    • ‘In this scenario, humans moved rapidly through the continent, slaughtering mammoths, mastodons and other large prey as they went.’
    • ‘She says they were only made for scenery - like the rhinoceros and the mastodon.’
    • ‘We learned the difference between mastodons and mammoths and admired their sturdy columnar legs, but given our languor, we resembled nothing so much as the giant sloth.’
    • ‘Prehistoric elephants - not just the woolly mammoths of Siberia, but others, such as American mastodons - were a common sight across the northern half of the globe.’
    • ‘In lower latitudes, mastodons and elephants, giant deer and ox, beavers, dogs and cats, and other familiar species existed in the forests and grasslands.’
    • ‘All too often books written for a popular audience include animals such as mammoths, mastodons, plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and the sail-backed Dimetrodon.’
    • ‘The equid and mammoth remains came from the upper unit and the mastodon and edentate material came from the middle unit.’
    • ‘Saber-toothed cats, mastodons, giant sloths, woolly rhinos, and many other big, shaggy mammals are widely thought to have died out around the end of the last ice age, some 10,500 years ago.’
    • ‘During the Pleistocene Epoch, which ended about 11,000 years ago, this scavenger dined on the carcasses of mastodons, giant sloths, primitive horses, and other megafauna of the time.’
    • ‘The trip takes an unexpected turn when the craft they are rowing begins a voyage back through time where the young heroes encounter mastodons, dinosaurs and eventually the starting point of life on earth.’
    • ‘Geologists say it probably once belonged to a woolly mammoth or a mastodon.’
    • ‘These extinctions included animals such as mammoths and mastodons, the saber-toothed cat, ground sloths and native American horses and camels.’


Early 19th century: modern Latin, from Greek mastos ‘breast’ + odous, odont- ‘tooth’ (with reference to nipple-shaped tubercles on the crowns of its molar teeth).