variants: or Paleo

Definition of paleo

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a Paleo diet By returning to the diet of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, the proponents of Paleo claim, we can restore our happiness, health, and waistlines.— Alesh Houdek In fact, so popular is paleo eating that it's been the subject of more than a dozen books … and numerous websites and blogs …— Shawn Perine
variants: or before a vowel pale-

Definition of paleo- (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : involving or dealing with ancient forms or conditions paleobotany
2 : early : primitive : archaic Paleolithic

First Known Use of paleo


2005, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for paleo

Combining form

borrowed from New Latin palaeo-, borrowed from Greek palaio-, combining form from palaiós "old, of long standing, ancient," adjective derivative of pálai "long since, in the past," of uncertain origin

Note: Greek pálai was formerly compared with têle "far off, in the distance," both being referred to an Indo-European base *kwel-, whence also Sanskrit caramáḥ "outermost, last." However, if Mycenaean Greek pa-ra-jo- is correctly glossed as "old," the etymon would not have begun with a labiovelar and the comparison falls into serious difficulty. See John Chadwick, "The Etymology of Greek πάλαι," Glotta, Band 54, Heft 1 (1976), pp. 68-71; Chadwick suggests that if the original meaning of pálai was "in the recent past, before now," the word could be connected with pélas "near," plēsíon "nearby, neighboring."

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about paleo

Time Traveler for paleo

Time Traveler

The first known use of paleo was in 2005

See more words from the same year

Statistics for paleo

Cite this Entry

“Paleo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Apr. 2020.

Comments on paleo

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!