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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Did You Know?

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

Linda is Alaska Native and uses northwest woods, fossil walrus ivory and beads to create her one-of-a-kind earrings and necklaces. Anchorage Daily News, "Here is what you can expect for First Friday this week," 6 June 2019 Researchers expect additional fossil discoveries to come out of Lightning Ridge, where another new species was discovered last year. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, "Opal Miner Unearths New Species of Dinosaur," 5 June 2019 In the show, which is available on Netflix , Norway’s Greens come to power and announce plans to end fossil energy production. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Green Politics and Global Instability," 22 Jan. 2019 Right now, Indonesia’s policies are allowing for deforestation, and are far too fossil-fuel centric. Nithin Coca, Vox, "The most important country for the global climate no one is talking about," 6 Dec. 2018 Building a brain To investigate, Muotri and his colleagues compared the genome of Neanderthals (previously extracted from fossil bones and sequenced by other researchers) with that of modern humans. Laura Geggel /, NBC News, "Why tiny Neanderthal brains are now growing in petri dishes," 27 June 2018 LiveScience reports that in 2002, for instance, a little fossil trail discovered in Canada was 520 million years old. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Oldest Footprints Show When Life On Earth Got Legs," 11 June 2018 Although the tracks are technically not fossil, they are treated as such under Utah code and can result in a felony charge for anyone who destroys the prehistoric relics. Fox News, "Tourists unknowingly toss dinosaur tracks into lake at a Utah state park," 8 May 2018 The OpenWings Project team will be working with a paleontologist to integrate fossil evidence, Chesser says. Kat Eschner, Smithsonian, "What We Can Learn From a New Bird Tree of Life," 21 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

What's more, Scolomastax is a paralligatorid, a group best known from fossils in Asia. Michael Greshko, National Geographic, "Fossils of oddball crocodile relative found in Texas suburb," 10 June 2019 In Alberta, the government of former Premier Rachel Notley pledged incentives for companies that built chemical plants to create jobs and wean the province off its dependence on fossil-fuel exports. Robert Tuttle, Anchorage Daily News, "Canada joins Europe and California in banning single-use plastics," 10 June 2019 Sea-level rise, fossil-fuel usage and other large-scale forms of pollution are massive, global problems that require policy and market changes that are beyond the control of our individual actions. Chandran Nair, Quartz, "Religious leaders can kickstart a global anti-plastic movement," 6 June 2019 An old fossil-fuel burning power plant in Oakland’s Jack London Square area is one step closer to being replaced with cleaner energy sources. J.d. Morris, SFChronicle.com, "Agency’s effort to retire Oakland power plant moves forward," 5 June 2019 In particular, Biden’s camp called out China for financing fossil-fuel projects throughout the world, adding that any future U.S.-China agreements would hinge on carbon mitigation. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Biden jumps on the Green New Deal train with climate plan," 4 June 2019 Someone who's interested in studying the rare cases of cannibalism throughout history, that's who—not just in modern humans but also in fossil remains from the Paleolithic era. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Here are your 2018 Ig Nobel Prize winners," 13 Sep. 2018 Then sift through sand for fossils at the Dino Dig. BostonGlobe.com, "Five things to do around Boston, May 21-27," 18 May 2018 Isaac Vergun is a quiet sixteen-year-old who devoted his bar mitzvah project to a fossil-fuel divestment campaign in his hometown of Beaverton, Oregon. Julia Felsenthal, Vogue, "Do Americans Have a Constitutional Right to a Livable Planet? Meet the 21 Young People Who Say They Do," 21 Mar. 2019

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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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
informal : 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on fossil

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fossil

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fossil

Spanish Central: Translation of 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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