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

Examples of fossilize in a Sentence

The mud helped to preserve and fossilize the wood.
Recent Examples on the Web Set in a form of fossil resin called copal, the specimen represents a new species named Myrmarachne colombiana, and is the first ant-mimicking spider from Colombia, whether fossilized or non-fossilized. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 28 Mar. 2024 The acid decays the tooth, but also destroys DNA and stops the dental plaque from fossilizing and hardening over time. Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 27 Mar. 2024 Impressions of early rope fossilized in clay or depictions of it in prehistoric art are essentially the only evidence that has survived into the modern day, the scientists write. Christian Thorsberg, Smithsonian Magazine, 2 Feb. 2024 These drill holes were also made prior to the bones becoming fossilized, meaning that humans must have existed alongside these megafauna to have access to their fresh bones. Ryan McRae, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Dec. 2023 Ice doesn’t fossilize, so there’s no direct evidence showing how far the southernmost continent’s glaciers stretched in the distant past. Meghan Bartels, Scientific American, 21 Dec. 2023 Different types of organisms are likely to have fossilized in different types of environments, but the most crucial aspect of fossilization is a quick burial in a place where the organism is least likely to be scavenged, according to Gibson. Sofia Quaglia, Discover Magazine, 21 Dec. 2023 The fried pigskin sprinkles, which usually add a welcome crackle to the sandwich, have fossilized into something hard and tooth-rattling. Tim Carman, Washington Post, 20 Dec. 2023 Over time, sediment buried the bones, which fossilized and drifted with the continents to what is now northeastern France. Matt Hrodey, Discover Magazine, 21 Nov. 2023

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

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 16 Jun. 2024.

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

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