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A mammoth


From obsolete Russian ма́мант (mámant), modern ма́монт (mámont), probably from a Uralic language, such as Proto-Mansi *mē̮ŋ-ońt (earth-horn). Possibly influenced by behemoth.[1]

The Mansi word could mean "earth stag," from Northern Mansi ма̄ (, earth) and а̄ньт (ānʹt, horn). Adjectival use was popularized in the early 1800s by references to the Cheshire Mammoth Cheese presented to American paleontologist and president Thomas Jefferson.


  • IPA(key): /ˈmæməθ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æməθ


mammoth (plural mammoths)

  1. Any species of the extinct genus Mammuthus, of large, usually hairy, elephant-like mammals with long curved tusks and an inclined back, which became extinct with the last retreat of ice age glaciers during the late Pleistocene period, and are known from fossils, frozen carcasses, and Paleolithic cave paintings found in North America and Eurasia.
    • 1618, Richard James, “The Implications of James's Maimanto”, in Robert Auty, I. P. Foote, editors, Oxford Slavonic Papers. New Series.[1], volume 9, Clarendon Press, published 1976, Dictionariolum Russico-Anglicum, page 103:
      Maimanto, as they say a sea elephant which is never seene, but accordinge to the Samuites he workes himselfe under grownde and so they finde his teeth or homes or bones in Pechore and Nova Zemla of which they []
    • 1698, Heinrich Wilhelm Ludolf, edited by Sir James Augustus Henry Murray, Sir William Alexander Craigie, and Charles Talbut Onions, A New English dictionary on historical principles: founded mainly on the materials collected by the Philological Society.[2], volume 6, Oxford: Clarendon Press, published 1908, A. Brand's Emb. Muscovy into China, page 98:
      The Mammotovoy, which is dug out of the Earth in Siberia.
    • 1706, Evert Ysbrants Ides, “An Account of Elephants Teeth and Bones, found under Ground”, in The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, from Their Commencement in 1665 to the Year 1800.[3], volume 7, London: C. and R. Baldwin, published 1809, Three Years Travels from Moscow Over-land to China: Thro' Great Ustiga, Siriania, Permia, Sibiria, Daour, Great Tartary, Etc. to Peking ; Containing an Exact and Particular Description of the Extent and Limits of Those Countries, and the Customs of the Barbarous Inhabitants; with Reference to Their Religion, Government, Marriages, Daily Imployments, Habits, Habitations, Diet Death, Funerals etc. to which is Annex'd an Accurat Description of China, Done Originally by a Chinese Author., page 243:
      The old Siberian Russians affirm that the Mammuth is very like the Elephant.
  2. (obsolete) A mastodon.
    • 1812, Samuel Fothergill, William Royston, “Half-yearly View of the Progress of Medicine”, in The Medical and Physical Journal[4], volume 27, London: Richard Phillips, page 24:
      Many of our readers will remember the skeleton of the American mammoth, now the Mastodonton, being exhibited in London by Mr. Rembrandt Peale.
  3. (figuratively) Something very large of its kind.
    • 1802, Richard Hopwood Thornton, edited by Louise Wardell Hanley, An American Glossary: Being an Attempt to Illustrate Certain Americanisms Upon Historical Principles[5], volume 2, Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, published 1912, page 571:
      The last load, as we Yankees say, was a "Mammoth": [] producing an aggregate of nearly twelve cords.
    • 1973, Jeffrey Potter, Disaster by Oil, page 46:
      That is a lot of ship, about the size of big tankers before they grew so rapidly to become supers, mammoths and oilbergs.

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mammoth (comparative more mammoth, superlative most mammoth)

  1. Comparable to a mammoth in its size; very large, huge, gigantic.
    • 1801, Thomas Jefferson, edited by Julian Parks Boyd, The papers of Thomas Jefferson: 1 August to 30 November 1801[6], volume 35, Princeton University Press, published 2009, →ISBN, page 479:
      I recieved [sic] from the persons to whom the inclosed is directed, a present of a quarter of a Mammoth-veal which at 115. days old weighed 438. lb.
    • 1802, Richard Hopwood Thornton, edited by Louise Wardell Hanley, An American Glossary: Being an Attempt to Illustrate Certain Americanisms Upon Historical Principles[7], volume 2, Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, published 1912, page 571:
      A baker in this city offers Mammoth bread for sale. We suppose that his gigantic loaves were baked at a Salt Lick, and perhaps []
    • 1898, Guy Wetmore Carryl, “The Arrogant Frog and the Superior Bull”, in Fables for the Frivolous (With Apologies to La Fontaine):
      “Ha! ha!” he proudly cried, “a fig / For this, your mammoth torso! / Just watch me while I grow as big / As you—or even more so!”
    • 1999, Albert Isaac Slomovitz, The Fighting Rabbis: Jewish Military Chaplains and American History, New York University Press, page 103:
      [] The task is mammoth but not hopeless and slowly we keep things going until this transition period is past.”
    • 2018 July 2, Samuel Osborne, “Thai cave search: All 12 boys and football coach found alive after nine days missing, governor says”, in[8], Independent, retrieved 2018-07-02:
      The governor of the region said that all of the 13 missing were safe after a mammoth search and rescue operation.
    • 2020 August 26, “Network News: Mid-September before line reopens, says Network Rail”, in Rail, page 10:
      Network Rail doesn't expect the line through Carmont to open for around a month, as it faces the mammoth task of recovering the two power cars and four coaches from ScotRail's wrecked train, repairing bridge 325, stabilising earthworks around the landslip, and replacing the track.


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