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 prehistorical (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3 : regarded as being outdated or outmoded prehistoric attitudes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 prehistorically (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 Sure, some were believed to splash around or wade in prehistoric rivers, not unlike a lizard-like version of today’s grizzly bears. Sara Kiley Watson, Popular Science, "Most dinosaurs didn’t swim—but this ‘dino equivalent of Jaws’ sure did," 14 May 2020 The prehistoric behemoth is from the sturgeon family and looks like a mashup of a shark and platypus. Tim Evans, Indianapolis Star, "Despite COVID-19 concerns, Indiana's Caviar King denied release from federal prison," 6 May 2020 When work began again the next year, the town was renamed Casa Grande after the nearby prehistoric ruins. Roger Naylor, azcentral, "When stay at home ends: This Arizona neon sign park glows nightly. Here's how to see it," 20 Apr. 2020 Gioia writes in an early chapter on prehistoric times. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "A Return to the Original Purpose of Music," 9 Apr. 2020 Take the 360° tour, from the English Heritage non-profit group, of the famous prehistoric standing stones in Wiltshire, England. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Southern Living, "5 United Kingdom Landmarks You Can Tour From Home," 9 Apr. 2020 With time running out, a rescue diver must now confront an unimaginable threat -- a 75-foot-long prehistoric shark. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019," 22 Sep. 2019 Around the prehistoric beast's neck is a sign: The T-rex also has a face mask covering his ferocious teeth and gloves at the end of his stubby arms. Arlene Martinez, USA TODAY, "In CA: 'Let's not make the mistake of pulling the plug too early' + track your virus $," 15 Apr. 2020 To date, the site has yielded a trove of prehistoric weapons, including wooden spears and javelins thought to be the oldest ever discovered. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "300,000-Year-Old Stick Suggests Human Ancestors Were Skilled Hunters," 23 Apr. 2020

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

25 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prehistoric.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for prehistoric


How to pronounce prehistoric (audio)

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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