Ne·​an·​der·​thal nē-ˈan-dər-ˌtȯl How to pronounce Neanderthal (audio) -ˌthȯl How to pronounce Neanderthal (audio)
plural Neanderthals
or less commonly Neandertal
nē-ˈan-dər-ˌtȯl How to pronounce Neanderthal (audio)
or Neanderthal man or Neandertal man plural Neandertals or Neanderthal men or Neandertal men : a hominid (Homo neanderthalensis synonym H. sapiens neanderthalensis) known from skeletal remains in Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia that lived from about 30,000 to 200,000 years ago
: a person who suggests a caveman in appearance, mentality, or behavior
… heckled by a bunch of NeanderthalsBonitta Best
But the man is also not a Neanderthal. His mother was an English teacher, and her son quotes Henry David Thoreau …Seth Emerson
Neanderthal adjective
or less commonly Neandertal
-ˌthȯ- How to pronounce Neanderthal (audio)
adjective or noun

Examples of Neanderthal in a Sentence

I can't believe I was married to that Neanderthal for three years. Some Neanderthals continue to resist the education reform bill.
Recent Examples on the Web This all led the scientists to concludes that the most important genetic risk factor for Dupuytren’s disease is the lingering role of Neanderthal ancestry. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, 27 July 2023 At some point, a Neanderthal with a sharpened, wooden spear stepped forward to strike the fatal blow – or at least wound the lion severely. Matt Hrodey, Discover Magazine, 2 Nov. 2023 Newsletter Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news Genetic variants inherited from Neanderthals make modern-day people more likely to suffer pain when poked with a stick, geneticists have found. Matt Hrodey, Discover Magazine, 19 Oct. 2023 Bones of cave lions from thousands of years ago indicate that Neanderthals may have been capable of hunting the large predators, and that our relatives may have used the hides for cultural purposes. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 Oct. 2023 Armed with these Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes, scientists could compare them to people today and look for chunks of DNA that match. Maddie Burakoff, Fortune, 26 Sep. 2023 Yet Neanderthals living in warm, wet environs had tooth-wear patterns similar to those of agricultural peoples who eat lots of fibrous plants. Manvir Singh, The New Yorker, 25 Sep. 2023 Published in Molecular Biology and Evolution by Oxford University Press, the new paper ties Dupuytren’s disease to Neanderthals through the use of data gathered from modern-day humans. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, 27 July 2023 The Trouble with Ancient Art Most prehistoric paintings that have been attributed to Neanderthals haven’t offered such strong evidence of their origins. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 21 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Neanderthal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Neanderthal, valley in western Germany

First Known Use

1874, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of Neanderthal was in 1874

Dictionary Entries Near Neanderthal

Cite this Entry

“Neanderthal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


Ne·​an·​der·​thal nē-ˈan-dər-ˌthȯl How to pronounce Neanderthal (audio) -ˌtȯl How to pronounce Neanderthal (audio)
or Neandertal
-ˌtȯl How to pronounce Neanderthal (audio)
: a primate mammal that belongs to the same family as human beings, lived from about 30,000 to 200,000 years ago, is known from skeletal remains in Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, and is characterized especially by a stocky muscular build and prominent browridge

called also Neanderthal man

: one who suggests a caveman in appearance, behavior, or intelligence
Neanderthal adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on Neanderthal

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