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pa·​leo ˈpā-lē-ō How to pronounce paleo (audio)
 especially British  ˈpa-
variants or Paleo
: 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


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combining form

variants or before a vowel pale-
: involving or dealing with ancient forms or conditions
: early : primitive : archaic

Word History


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."

First Known Use


2005, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of paleo was in 2005

Dictionary Entries Near paleo

Cite this Entry

“Paleo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

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