Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of several very large, extinct proboscidian mammals of the genus Mammut (sometimes Mastodon), resembling the elephant but having molar teeth of a different structure.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Extinct elephant-like mammal of the genus Mammut that flourished worldwide from Miocene through Pleistocene times; differs from elephants and mammoths in the form of the molar teeth.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An extinct genus of mammals closely allied to the elephant, but having less complex molar teeth, and often a pair of lower, as well as upper, tusks, which are incisor teeth. The species were mostly larger than elephants, and their remains occur in nearly all parts of the world in deposits ranging from Miocene to late Quaternary time.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An extinct proboscidean quadruped of the family Elephantidæ and subfamily Mastodontinæ.
  • n. [capitalized] The typical genus of Mastodontinæ, formerly held to include all the mastodons, now restricted to those of the tetralophodont series, such as M. avernensis of Europe.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. extinct elephant-like mammal that flourished worldwide from Miocene through Pleistocene times; differ from mammoths in the form of the molar teeth

Etymologies

New Latin Mastodōn, genus name : Greek mastos, breast, nipple + Greek odōn, odont-, tooth (from the nipple-shaped protrusions on the crowns of its molars); see dent- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
First attested 1813, from the New Latin genus name Mastodon (1806), coined by Georges Cuvier, from Ancient Greek μαστός (mastos, "breast") + ὀδούς (odous, "tooth"), from the similarity of the mammilloid projections on the crowns of the extinct mammal's molars. (Wiktionary)

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  • Mastodons "resembled, but were distinct from, the woolly mammoth, which belongs to the family Elephantidae. Mastodons were browsers, while mammoths were grazers." (Wikipedia)

    September 4, 2008