December 16, 2012
mastodon (noun)
\MASS-tuh-dahn\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: any of various huge extinct mammals related to the mammoths and to the existing elephants
How do you use it?
Unlike the dinosaurs, mastodons and mammoths shared the earth with humans thousands of years ago.
Are you a word wiz?

Let's make sure your word skills aren't extinct. What do you think the root of "mastodon" means?

Smile if you chose B, "tooth." The Greek word "odon," which means "tooth," was used in the early 1800s to coin the name "Mastodon" for an animal with notably large teeth used for grinding leaves. Mastodon is not the only prehistoric animal with a name formed from Greek "odon." Sharp canines inspired the name "Smilodon" (or commonly, "saber-toothed cat"), which combines "odon" and "smile," a Greek word for a woodcarving knife. "Pteranodon" comes from Greek "pteron," meaning "wing," and "anodon," "toothless." And "iguanodon" combines "odon" with Spanish "iguana."
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