pre·​his·​tor·​ic ˌprē-(h)i-ˈstȯr-ik How to pronounce prehistoric (audio)
variants or less commonly prehistorical
: of, relating to, or existing in times antedating written history
: of or relating to a language in a period of its development from which contemporary records of its sounds and forms have not been preserved
: regarded as being outdated or outmoded
prehistoric attitudes
prehistorically adverb

Examples of prehistoric in a Sentence

His attitudes about women are downright prehistoric. prehistoric notions about mental illness that have no place in today's world
Recent Examples on the Web While the reptile was first identified in 2003, this latest discovery is more complete — about 16 feet long — and allowed the scientists to depict the strange, prehistoric creature in full for the first time. Diba Mohtasham, NPR, 23 Feb. 2024 The study, published in Nature, is part of a larger study examining the genomes and DNA of the prehistoric Nordic population. Bradford Betz, Fox News, 16 Feb. 2024 Such a diet is commonly found among prehistoric dogs at archaeological sites. Brian Handwerk, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Feb. 2024 Similar prehistoric hunting structures have been found in other parts of the world, including a caribou trap now submerged in Lake Huron, Michigan, researchers said. Aspen Pflughoeft, Miami Herald, 13 Feb. 2024 Estimates suggest that this prehistoric creature possibly got up to 10-12 feet, similar to the modern oceanic whitetip shark. Melissa Cristina Márquez, Forbes, 10 Feb. 2024 In the last 25 years, at least 70 species of prehistoric marine animals have been identified from fossils in the cave, and the two new shark discoveries add to that growing total. Especially noteworthy, T. trimblei belongs to an entirely new genus. Shi En Kim, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 Feb. 2024 Among the exhibits are prehistoric artifacts excavated from the site (estimated at 7,300-8,400 years old), a replica of a roundhouse tribal gathering place and the first slot machine from the Agua Caliente’s original casino. Kathy McDonald, Variety, 2 Jan. 2024 Detroit last won an NFL championship before the Super Bowl existed, which is sports tantamount to prehistoric times. Greg Cote, Miami Herald, 29 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prehistoric.' 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

1832, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of prehistoric was in 1832

Dictionary Entries Near prehistoric

Cite this Entry

“Prehistoric.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


pre·​his·​tor·​ic ˌprē-(h)is-ˈtȯr-ik How to pronounce prehistoric (audio)
: of, relating to, or existing in times before written history
prehistoric animals
prehistorically adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on prehistoric

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