I was doing an outdoor project with a friend and I said “I’ll just use the mattock” and he replied “what is a mattock?”. I picked it up and he said “oh, the pick axe”. I said “no, this is a mattock”. This little conversation got me thinking, why do they call it a mattock? Did the old farmer Mr. Mattock invent the tool to dig up roots in his garden? I decided to do a little research to dig up some answers!
The mattock is a hand tool used for digging, prying and chopping that the main side is an adze, an ancient cutting tool similar to an axe but with the cutting edge perpendicular to the handle. The smaller part of the tool is typically is an axe, but sometimes it is a pick. The cutter mattock is like a fireman’s Pulaski or grub axe.
Some guess that mattock comes from Proto-Indo-European origins (hypothetical prehistoric ethnolinguistic group of Eurasia). This just means they have no idea. The Inuit use a mattaq (a mattock) to prepare whale blubber. Bottom line, no one knows the origin.