pre·​his·​tor·​ic | \ ˌprē-(h)i-ˈstȯr-ik How to pronounce prehistoric (audio) , -ˈstär- \
variants: or less commonly prehistorical \ ˌprē-​(h)i-​ˈstȯr-​i-​kəl How to pronounce prehistoric (audio) , -​ˈstär-​ \

Definition of prehistoric

1 : of, relating to, or existing in times antedating written history
2 : 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
3 : regarded as being outdated or outmoded prehistoric attitudes

Other Words from prehistoric

prehistorically \ ˌprē-​(h)i-​ˈstȯr-​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce prehistoric (audio) , -​ˈstär-​ \ 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 The tooth of a young girl found in a cave in Laos has been revealed to belong to a group of prehistoric human relatives known as Denisovans, and the discovery is helping researchers better understand modern human evolution. Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY, 18 May 2022 Scientists have found evidence that prehistoric people in the Mediterranean region dined on snails. Washington Post, 11 May 2022 This free interactive exhibit explains the science of archaeology, and features artifacts from several dig sites in Columbia, both prehistoric and historic. Hartford Courant, 6 May 2022 Far from being simpletons, the Davids maintain, prehistoric people were often socially self-aware, creative, experimental. John Horgan, Scientific American, 28 Feb. 2022 Much of the evidence about these workers’ eating habits comes from the settlement at Durrington Walls, which housed hundreds of prehistoric people during a relatively short period of 50 to 100 years, as Morris wrote for the Guardian in 2017. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Dec. 2021 While large alligators are not an uncommon sight in Florida, this one gained attention for its rather prehistoric appearance. NBC News, 13 Nov. 2020 Four names and the date of Dec. 26 were scratched into the prehistoric art, officials said Tuesday. Timothy Fanning, San Antonio Express-News, 5 Jan. 2022 Figurative cave painting, involving depictions of animals or people, isn’t the only kind of prehistoric art. Morgan Meis, The New Yorker, 13 Nov. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prehistoric.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of prehistoric

1832, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of prehistoric was in 1832

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prehistoric archaeology

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Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Prehistoric.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for prehistoric


pre·​his·​tor·​ic | \ ˌprē-hi-ˈstȯr-ik How to pronounce prehistoric (audio) \

Kids Definition of prehistoric

: relating to or existing in the time before written history began prehistoric animals

More from Merriam-Webster on prehistoric

Nglish: Translation of prehistoric for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prehistoric for Arabic Speakers


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