neo·​lith·​ic ˌnē-ə-ˈli-thik How to pronounce neolithic (audio)
capitalized : of or relating to the latest period of the Stone Age characterized by polished stone implements
: belonging to an earlier age and now outmoded

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Since lithos in Greek means "stone", the Neolithic period is the "new" or "late" period of the Stone Age, in contrast to the Paleolithic period ("old" or "early" period) and the Mesolithic period ("middle" period) of the Stone Age. The use of polished stone tools came to different parts of the world at different times, but the Neolithic Age is usually said to begin around 9000 B.C. and to end around 3000 B.C., when the Bronze Age begins. The Neolithic is the era when the farming of plants and animals begins, and when, as a result, humans first begin to create permanent settlements.

Examples of neolithic in a Sentence

my old manual typewriter now seems positively neolithic
Recent Examples on the Web The annual event is marked by winter solstice traditions around the world, including parades, festivals, spiritual gatherings and other observances, and thousands of people flock to Stonehenge and other neolithic monuments. Kerry Breen, CBS News, 21 Dec. 2023 The paper says that hunter-gatherer communities lived on in these landscapes well into the neolithic period and sustained themselves on fish and other resources from waterways. Matt Hrodey, Discover Magazine, 14 Aug. 2023 Stonehenge, an ancient neolithic monument located on the Salisbury Plain in England, is one of the biggest mysteries in archaeology. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, 28 Mar. 2023 There are caves and stone towers that bear traces of inhabitance from neolithic times, as well as the visible legacy of its booming medieval olive oil trade in the terraced farmlands that spill down the tumbling rock faces. Liam Hess, Vogue, 14 Aug. 2023 Around 12,000 years ago, humans shifted away from a hunter gatherer lifestyle and into a neolithic society based around farming. Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 26 July 2023 The first is basic astronomy: Simply put, Stonehenge’s neolithic architects would have no way of precisely accounting for the subtle change in the sun’s daily position (which accounts to one-tenth of a degree) using massive stones. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, 28 Mar. 2023 For years, archaeologists have explored the possible purposes of the neolithic monument known as Stonehenge. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, 28 Mar. 2023 People are commonly drawn to historic sites, from neolithic burial areas, standing stones, and cathedrals to medieval castles, monasteries, 19th-century former industrial sites, and more—all of which remind us of the past and reveal traces of what came before. Elizabeth Waddington, Treehugger, 20 Feb. 2023

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

Word History


neo- + -lithic

Note: Term introduced, along with Paleolithic, by the British politician and scientist Sir John Lubbock (1834-1913) in Pre-historic Times, as Illustrated by Ancient Remains, and the Manners and Customs of Modern Savages (London, 1865), p. 3.

First Known Use

1865, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of neolithic was in 1865

Dictionary Entries Near neolithic

Cite this Entry

“Neolithic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


: of, relating to, or being the latest period of the Stone Age which is marked by the use of polished stone tools
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