hum·​mock ˈhə-mək How to pronounce hummock (audio)
: a rounded knoll or hillock
: a ridge of ice
hummock verb
hummocky adjective

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Where did hummock come from?

Having trouble telling a hummock from a hammock from a hillock? Not to worry: all three words refer to a small hill or earthen mound. Hummock, in fact, is an alteration of hammock; this 16th century pair share an ancestor with the Middle Low German words hummel (“small height”) and hump (“bump”), the latter of which is also a distant relative of our English word hump. As for the 14th-century vintage hillock, a version of the suffix -ock has been attached to nouns to designate a small one of whatever since the days of Old English. Note that the hilly hammock mentioned here is not related to the hammock offering a swaying repose between supports. That hammock comes from the Spanish hamaca, and ultimately from Taino, a language spoken by the original inhabitants of the Greater Antilles and the Bahamas.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web There, in a tangle of roots, dead wood and grass on a hummock about the size of a pitcher's mound, coiled a 2-foot-long snake. Paul A. Smith, Journal Sentinel, 14 Aug. 2022 Its hummock was part of a wetland spiked with tamarack saplings and carpeted with wild cranberries. Paul A. Smith, Journal Sentinel, 14 Aug. 2022 Like a swarm of rattlesnakes trying to escape their den, the first rat launches itself off the hummock toward the safety of the Roseau cane, revealing five or six others beneath. Gerry Bethge, Outdoor Life, 21 Apr. 2020 The SoHo townhouse is packed with hummocks of clothes and sundry stuff, much of it to be donated to charity. Karen Heller, Washington Post, 23 Sep. 2019 Now the potholed muddy track meandering among the hummocks barely resembles a road. Neil Macfarquhar, New York Times, 4 Aug. 2019 As the permafrost thaws across Yakutia, some land sinks, transforming the terrain into an obstacle course of hummocks and craters — called thermokarst. Neil Macfarquhar, New York Times, 4 Aug. 2019 Beneath the sandy hummocks are riprap and cobblestones, substances that were already in the area before the project began. Barbara Henry, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 May 2019 A year later, plants such as woolgrass bulrush, brome hummock sedge, giant bur-reed, marsh marigold, queen-of-the-prairie and spike gayfeather are attracting dragonflies and monarch butterflies. Patrick M. O'connell,, 22 June 2018 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hummock.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


alteration of hammock entry 2

First Known Use

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of hummock was in 1555


Dictionary Entries Near hummock

Cite this Entry

“Hummock.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



hum·​mock ˈhəm-ək How to pronounce hummock (audio)
: a rounded mound of earth : knoll
: a ridge or pile of ice
hummocky adjective

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