[Ads-l] mammoth, adj.

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 23 05:18:36 UTC 2015

The Atlantic's Megan Garber writes about the "mammoth cheese" of 1801,
delivered to Thomas Jefferson from Cheshire, Mass.:


She writes: "It was the first time 'mammoth' was used as an
adjective." OED3's earliest cite is from an Oct. 22, 1801 letter by
Jefferson referring to a "mammoth veal," which was actually inspired
by the "mammoth cheese." Here's the earliest reference I've found to
the cheese as "mammoth":

1801 _New-Hampshire Gazette_ (Portsmouth, NH) 4 Aug. 3/1
Albany, July 28. Extract of a letter from a gentleman in Berkshire
(Mass.) to his friend in this city.
I have nothing new or strange to tell you, excepting of a Mammoth
Cheese which the Cheshire people are making to present to the Mammoth
of Montecello.


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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