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From Middle French matelot ("sailor"). Compare Dutch matroos and German Matrose.


IPA(key): /ˈmæt.ləʊ/


matelot (plural matelots)

  1. sailor; also "mate;" boon companion
    • 1949, Francis van Wyck Mason, Cutlass Empire, OCLC 288007:
      […] "Among the Brethren of the Coast—we tykes no wimmen save in passing, as it were, they being bothersome, frail and scatterbrained creatures. Instead we tykes a blood-brother, or matelot ... A matelot, 'e fights along side o' yer, nurses yer if yer falls sick. Wots 'is is yours and whats yours is 'is ... Take Klaas yonder, and young Pedro [described earlier as a slender-hipped boy with deep feminine brown eyes]; they shared the same barbacoa six, seven year and ye'll never come on 'em more than a few yards apart." To this explanation [Harry] Morgan listened in growing amazement and began to comprehend why none of these bestial-appearing boucan makers had so much as addressed Kate.
    • 1984, John Harris, A Funny Place to Hold a War, London: Hutchinson, →ISBN:
      […] a chief petty officer, snarled something under his breath about bloody 'am-fisted matelots […]
    • 1997, Tristan Jones, Heart of Oak[1], Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: Sheridan House, →ISBN, page 103:
      So far as the average matelot was concerned, there was little romanticism about the preference for frigates, destroyers, frail E-boats that could be blown up with one well-aimed cannon, and submarines, those breeding grounds of TB and madness.
    • 2004, Alan O'Reilly, Sound of Battle, Coral Springs, Florida: Llumina Press, →ISBN, page 147:
      One day, a stalwart sailor was brought in with a severe fracture below the knee […] A week later the leg had turned septic but the matelot was endearing cheerful. "Never mind, Sister" he assured Anne. "I'll get a piece of whalebone, like Captain Ahab."
    • 2005, William Atlay, All for a King's Shilling, Ely, Cambridgeshire: Melrose Books, →ISBN, page 72:
      Our matelot took us out to sea in what I believed was not a very seaworthy boat.
    • 2014 June 7, Vicki Woods, “Sadness, and a surprise, at the 9/11 Museum: The memorial at Ground Zero is filled with objects that shock the tears out of you”, in The Daily Telegraph[2], London, page 24:
      There were no signs and no one quite knew how to navigate the museum, including, as it was Fleet Week, gaggles of boyish sailors all in their summer whites. It looked like a Frank Sinatra movie. A bunch of these matelots surrounded a police officer, who said: "You guys are from the USS Cole? Thank you for your service. Want me to take you around?"


  • American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. s.v. "matelote"




From Middle French matelot (sailor), from Old French matenot (sailor, bunkmate), most likely from Middle Dutch mattenoot (bunk fellow) or less likely Old Norse mötunautr (food companion).


  • IPA(key): /ma.tlo/
  • (file)


matelot m (plural matelots, feminine matelote)

  1. seaman

Further reading[edit]



matelot m (plural matelots)

  1. (Jersey) sailor