Last modified on 21 January 2015, at 22:09



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An aberrant derivation from Old French mastin (modern French mâtin), from Vulgar Latin *mansuetīnus (tamed (animal)), from Latin mansuetus (tamed).


  • IPA(key): /ˈmæstɪf/ (US, UK)


mastiff (plural mastiffs)

  1. A large breed of dog. Often confused to be part of a type of large dogs. The Mastiff is a breed of its own that is sometimes referred to as an "English Mastiff". Other breeds have Mastiff in their informal name such as "French Mastiff" for Dogue de Bordeaux or include Mastiff in their breed names; Tibetan Mastiff or Neapolitan Mastiff. All are different breeds as well as the often confused Bullmastiff.
    • 1605: William Shakespeare, King Lear, Act III, Scene VI
      Avaunt, you curs! Be thy mouth or black or white, Tooth that poisons if it bite; Mastiff, greyhound, mongrel grim, Hound or spaniel, brach or him.
    • 1922, Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room, Vintage Classics, paperback edition, page 98
      A mastiff lay extended against a battered door.
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