Definition of matelot in English:



  • A sailor.

    • ‘Among the sailors listed by the French were Prussians, Italians, Americans, Portuguese, Danes and one matelot from Halifax (whether or not it's Halifax, Nova Scotia, or Halifax, Yorkshire, isn't clear).’
    • ‘The torpedo broke the destroyer's back, causing her to sink in 15 seconds and thus consigning hundreds of exhausted troops and matelots to their deaths.’
    • ‘TV chiefs are to hold a talent contest to find the best singing sailors, matelots, seamen and ship-hands in the country, and offer them a top music contract by way of a prize.’
    • ‘He was in matelot's uniform, having stayed on with the Royal Navy after the end of the war.’
    • ‘And the skill of sailing is matched in these young modern matelots by the skill of recovery from the capsize.’
    seaman, seafarer, seafaring man, mariner
    View synonyms


Mid 19th century (nautical slang): from French, variant of matenot, from Middle Dutch mattenoot ‘bed companion’, because sailors had to share hammocks in twos.