fos·​sil·​ize | \ ˈfä-sə-ˌlīz How to pronounce fossilize (audio) \
fossilized; fossilizing

Definition of fossilize

transitive verb

1 : to convert into a fossil
2 : to make outmoded, rigid, or fixed

intransitive verb

: to become changed into a fossil

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Other Words from fossilize

fossilization \ ˌfä-​sə-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce fossilization (audio) \ noun

Examples of fossilize in a Sentence

The mud helped to preserve and fossilize the wood.

Recent Examples on the Web

Over time, these creatures fossilized deep within the lake’s layers of mud and ash, creating a kind of geological jackpot for today’s paleontologists. Peter Wilf, National Geographic, "Prehistoric tree is first of its kind found below the Equator," 6 June 2019 Soft tissue such as muscle do not typically fossilize, but these were preserved as the mineral pyrite. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "A 150-Year Old Weird Ancient Animal Mystery, Solved," 22 Feb. 2019 In my mind a few of them are fossilized in their teenage awfulness. Mike Kerrigan, WSJ, "A Black Eye From My Brother, a Lesson Learned," 29 Mar. 2019 Finding teeth are important for understanding how ancient sharks lived, as the majority of their bodies are made up of cartilage, which unlike bones, does not fossilize. Chris Ciaccia, Fox News, "Mega-shark teeth dating back 25 million years discovered at Australian beach," 2 Oct. 2018 The 60 meteorites were fossilized in limestone in Western Australia's Pilbara region and unearthed in 2014 and 2015. William Herkewitz, Popular Mechanics, "These Are The Oldest Meteorites Ever Discovered," 11 May 2016 Kenneth Carpenter, a paleontologist at Utah State University in Price, tells Barras that the dinosaur’s unique skeletal features could come from another animal that was fossilized at the same time. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "A Mysterious Dinosaur Skeleton Was Auctioned Off to a Private Buyer," 7 June 2018 Today their scant remains reveal little about their insides; in most cases their innards had rotted before the trees fossilized, and storms had filled them with sand. Daisy Yuhas, Scientific American, "Ancient Tree Structure Is Like a Forest unto Itself," 1 Jan. 2018 Since conversations don’t fossilize, any evolutionary interpretation is difficult. Joshua Rapp Learn, Smithsonian, "Some Animals Take Turns While Talking, Just Like Humans. Why?," 20 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fossilize.' 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 fossilize

1794, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Statistics for fossilize

Last Updated

13 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fossilize

The first known use of fossilize was in 1794

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More Definitions for fossilize



English Language Learners Definition of fossilize

: to become a fossil or to cause (something) to become a fossil

More from Merriam-Webster on fossilize

Spanish Central: Translation of fossilize

Nglish: Translation of fossilize for Spanish Speakers

Comments on fossilize

What made you want to look up fossilize? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


miscellaneous remnants or debris

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