Definition of fossil in English:


Syllabification: fos·sil
Pronunciation: /ˈfäsəl


  • 1The remains or impression of a prehistoric organism preserved in petrified form or as a mold or cast in rock.
    More example sentences
    • Very few dinosaur fossils are actually found near this boundary.
    • Scientific testing has determined that the oldest dinosaur fossils are hundreds of millions of years old.
    • Almost no dinosaur fossils have been found from that time, particularly in North America.
    petrified remains, petrified impression, remnant, relic
  • 1.1 derogatory or • humorous An antiquated or stubbornly unchanging person or thing: he can be a cantankerous old fossil at times
    More example sentences
    • Most of the other scholars were old fossils that seemed so fragile that the slightest breath of wind would keel them over.
    • Who would take care of that crazy old fossil then?
    • For those of you who are surprised that a grumpy old fossil like me actually works on a computer, it is all t'Editor's fault.
  • 1.2A word or phrase that has become obsolete except in set phrases or forms, e.g., hue in hue and cry.
    More example sentences
    • It has usually been represented in ModE by gh, leaving its silent fossils in such words as dough, night, through, thought, thorough.
    • A plaintiff, therefore, was originally just a person who made a complaint, but the word became a fossil of legal terminology many centuries ago.
    • Old words become linguistic fossils as new words replace them in response to events and developments in a rapidly changing world.


mid 16th century (denoting a fossilized fish found, and believed to have lived, underground): from French fossile, from Latin fossilis 'dug up', from fodere 'dig'.

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