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3 : regarded as being outdated or outmoded prehistoric attitudes

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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 Starting this month, visitors to Stone Zoo in Stoneham can walk among the giants that ruled the earth during prehistoric times, as well as the creatures large and small that inhabit it today., "Now stalking Stone Zoo: animatronic dinosaurs," 23 Apr. 2021 Previous walking estimates of the T. rex were based on research that centered only on the prehistoric reptile's meaty hips and legs, reports Mindy Weisberger for Live Science. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, "New Study Finds That T. Rex Walked at a Slow Pace of 3 Miles Per Hour," 23 Apr. 2021 Described as an ancient sea creature or a prehistoric dinosaur-like monster, Godzilla awakens after underwater hydrogen-bomb testing begins off the coast of Japan. Brooke Knisley, Vulture, "9 Eco-Horror Movies That Will Remind You to Be Nicer to the Earth," 22 Apr. 2021 Dig up Alaska’s past and learn how archaeologists and paleontologists solve the mysteries of Alaska’s prehistoric people and animals. Anchorage Daily News, "2021 Summer Camps," 21 Apr. 2021 Also included are fossils and casts of several dinosaurs, as well as scientific information about pangea and the prehistoric supercontinent of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras, when dinos lived. Susan Dunne,, "Dinosaurs star at Six Flags and Connecticut Science Center, plus other places to find the prehistoric creatures," 13 Apr. 2021 In a prehistoric nanosecond, the reign of the dinosaurs ended and the rise of mammals began. Cody Cassidy, Wired, "How to Survive a Killer Asteroid," 9 Apr. 2021 Learning how our ancestors created cave art and engraved prehistoric stone maps transforms these early humans from unrelatable figures to relatives with common ground. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "A final flyby for asteroid Bennu and 5 other top space and science stories this week," 10 Apr. 2021 One example is the Wheel of Monotony, an iconic stone wheel in the prehistoric land Tyrannia which spins for hours before landing on a prize. Washington Post, "Flash is dead. These games from the early 2000s hope to live on.," 8 Apr. 2021

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.

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First Known Use of prehistoric

1832, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for prehistoric

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The first known use of prehistoric was in 1832

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Statistics for prehistoric

Last Updated

26 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prehistoric.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for prehistoric



English Language Learners Definition of prehistoric

: of, relating to, or existing in the time before people could write
informal + disapproving : very old or outdated


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

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