Definition of fossil in English:


Line breaks: fos¦sil
Pronunciation: /ˈfɒs(ə)l
, -sɪl/


1The remains or impression of a prehistoric plant or animal embedded in rock and preserved in petrified form: sites rich in fossils [as modifier]: a fossil fish
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, cast, impression, mould, remnant, relic;
Geology reliquiae
1.1 derogatory or humorous A person or thing that is outdated or resistant to change: he can be a cantankerous old fossil at times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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