Definition of matelot in English:



informal British
  • A sailor.

    • ‘TV chiefs are to hold a talent contest to find the best singing sailors, matelots, seamen and ship-hands in the country, and offer them a top music contract by way of a prize.’
    • ‘The torpedo broke the destroyer's back, causing her to sink in 15 seconds and thus consigning hundreds of exhausted troops and matelots to their deaths.’
    • ‘And the skill of sailing is matched in these young modern matelots by the skill of recovery from the capsize.’
    • ‘Among the sailors listed by the French were Prussians, Italians, Americans, Portuguese, Danes and one matelot from Halifax (whether or not it's Halifax, Nova Scotia, or Halifax, Yorkshire, isn't clear).’
    • ‘He was in matelot's uniform, having stayed on with the Royal Navy after the end of the war.’
    seaman, seafarer, seafaring man, mariner



/ˈmatlō/ /ˈmætloʊ/


Mid 19th century (nautical slang): from French, variant of matenot, from Middle Dutch mattenoot ‘bed companion’, because sailors had to share hammocks in twos.