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

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to become changed into a fossil
fossilization noun

Example Sentences

The mud helped to preserve and fossilize the wood.
Recent Examples on the Web These minerals allow most sharks to fossilize nicely. Olivia Munson, USA TODAY, 9 Aug. 2022 But one aspect of this rare preservation that has troubled scientists is why some internal organs seem to fossilize more commonly that others. David Bressan, Forbes, 9 Aug. 2022 Scientists then have to judge whether the dinosaur only had feathers on some of their body in life, or whether they were fully cloaked and then some of their plumage failed to fossilize. Carl Zimmer, Discover Magazine, 4 Apr. 2012 Unfortunately brains – let alone gestation and prenatal growth rate – don’t fossilize. Tesla Monson, The Conversation, 25 Jan. 2023 Any residue that’s not removed beforehand will fossilize between the layers of seasoning, creating an uneven surface and damaging the pan’s nonstick properties. Julie Harans, Bon Appétit, 19 Jan. 2023 Those bones were built by genes, which do not fossilize. Carl Zimmer, Discover Magazine, 10 Dec. 2012 Those sensory cells, like other soft tissue, rarely fossilize. Lisa Raffensperger, Discover Magazine, 11 Apr. 2013 The skeleton is made of soft cartilage that doesn’t fossilize well, Pimiento said. Maddie Burakoff, ajc, 17 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use

1794, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of fossilize was in 1794

Dictionary Entries Near fossilize

Cite this Entry

“Fossilize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


fos·​sil·​ize ˈfäs-ə-ˌlīz How to pronounce fossilize (audio)
fossilized; fossilizing
: to change or become changed into a fossil
fossilization noun

More from Merriam-Webster on fossilize

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