fossil

adjective
fos·​sil | \ ˈfä-səl How to pronounce fossil (audio) \

Definition of fossil

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : preserved from a past geologic age fossil plants fossil water in an underground reservoir
2 : being or resembling a fossil
3 : of or relating to fossil fuel fossil energy sources

fossil

noun

Definition of fossil (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a remnant, impression, or trace of an organism of past geologic ages that has been preserved in the earth's crust — compare living fossil
2a : a person whose views are outmoded : fogy
b : something (such as a theory) that has become rigidly fixed
3 : an old word or word element preserved only by idiom (such as fro in to and fro)

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A remnant, impression, or trace of an animal or plant of a past geologic age that has been preserved in the earth’s crust is called a fossil. Data from fossils are the primary source of information about the history of life on the earth. Only a small fraction of ancient organisms are preserved as fossils, and usually only organisms that have a solid skeleton or shell. Unaltered hard parts, such as the shells of clams, are relatively common in sedimentary rocks. The embedding of insects in amber and the preservation of mammoths in ice are rare but striking examples of the fossil preservation of soft tissues. Traces of organisms such as tracks and trails may also be preserved.

Examples of fossil in a Sentence

Noun some old fossil who thinks that a boy and a girl shouldn't be together unsupervised until they are engaged
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective This is part of a national push away from fossil fuels amid a deepening climate emergency, caused in part by the burning of energy sources such as coal, oil and gas. NBC News, 29 Nov. 2021 Turkey is surrounded by some of the world’s richest reserves of fossil fuels, in the Middle East and Central Asia, but produces little oil, gas or coal of its own. Joe Wallace, WSJ, 29 Nov. 2021 Two years ago New York committed to the nation’s most ambitious climate goals to shift away from the fossil fuels heating the planet and create a new, electrified economy that stops adding to climate change by 2050. New York Times, 29 Nov. 2021 Researchers focused on nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a gas that exists on Earth as a technological, rather than biological, product of human activity—namely, the burning of fossil fuels. Joelle Renstrom, Wired, 28 Nov. 2021 Emissions from burning and extracting fossil fuels from public lands and waters account for about a quarter of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Matthew Daly, USA TODAY, 27 Nov. 2021 Increasing minimum temperatures are a sign of the warmer and wetter conditions expected for Illinois, as human actions — the burning of fossil fuels and resulting emissions — continue to fuel rapid climate shifts. Morgan Greene, chicagotribune.com, 26 Nov. 2021 Emissions from burning and extracting fossil fuels from public lands and waters account for about a quarter of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Matthew Daly, ajc, 26 Nov. 2021 Emissions from burning and extracting fossil fuels from public lands and waters account for about a quarter of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Matthew Daly, The Salt Lake Tribune, 26 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Switching to green energy so would be better for the planet, but global power struggles won’t end alongside fossil fuels. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, 24 Nov. 2021 The latter requires keeping fossil fuels in the ground. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 24 Nov. 2021 The Times dispatched reporters across three continents drawn into the competition for cobalt, a relatively obscure raw material that along with lithium, nickel and graphite has gained exceptional value in a world trying to set fossil fuels aside. New York Times, 20 Nov. 2021 The Democrat campaigned on promises to curb fossil fuels from public lands and waters, which including coal account for about a quarter of U.S. carbon emissions, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Matthew Brown And Janet Mcconnaughey, Anchorage Daily News, 17 Nov. 2021 López Obrador’s energy policies couldn’t be more different from those of President Biden, who has pushed for historic investments in clean energy and is seeking to wean the nation and world off fossil fuels. Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, 17 Nov. 2021 Major coal, oil and gas producing countries were resisting language on fossil fuels that smaller climate-vulnerable nations wanted. Ivana Kottasová And Angela Dewan, CNN, 14 Nov. 2021 On the one hand, countries have all but universally signaled that fossil fuels are not the future. Time, 14 Nov. 2021 According to the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report, fossil fuels like oil and gas are the source of 86% of carbon dioxide emissions released over the last decade. David Vetter, Forbes, 12 Nov. 2021

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

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First Known Use of fossil

Adjective

1665, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1736, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fossil

Adjective

earlier, "dug from the earth, preserved in the ground," borrowed from French & Latin; French fossile, borrowed from Latin fossilis "obtained by digging," from fodiō, fodere "to prod, jab, dig, remove by digging" (going back to Indo-European *bhedh-, *bhodh- "jab, dig," whence also Lithuanian bedù, bèsti "to stick, dig," Old Church Slavic bodǫ, bosti "to prick, stab," Hittite paddai "digs") + -tilis "produced by, characterized by (the action of the verb)"

Noun

derivative of fossil entry 1, or borrowed directly from Latin fossilis

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Last Updated

2 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fossil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fossil. Accessed 4 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for fossil

fossil

noun

English Language Learners Definition of fossil

: something (such as a leaf, skeleton, or footprint) that is from a plant or animal which lived in ancient times and that you can see in some rocks
: a person whose ideas are very old-fashioned or out-of-date

fossil

noun
fos·​sil | \ ˈfä-səl How to pronounce fossil (audio) \

Kids Definition of fossil

: a trace or print or the remains of a plant or animal of a past age preserved in earth or rock

More from Merriam-Webster on fossil

Nglish: Translation of fossil for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fossil for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fossil

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