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3 : regarded as being outdated or outmoded prehistoric attitudes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 Scholars studying prehistoric life in Wales recently got an assist from an unexpected source. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, "Burrowing Bunnies in Wales Unearth Trove of Prehistoric Artifacts," 27 Mar. 2021 The prehistoric monument of Stonehenge in southern England was closed to visitors Saturday after dozens of protesters staged a trespass against the British government’s road-building plans, including a new tunnel near the World Heritage Site. Pan Pylas, USA TODAY, "UK's prehistoric Stonehenge closed after protesters trespass: 'We have had enough'," 7 Dec. 2020 The prehistoric monument sits in a much larger archaeological landscape called the Perdigões complex. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Stonehenge-Like ‘Timber Circles’ Found in Portugal," 13 Aug. 2020 The exhibit features dozens of prehistoric creatures re-created by paleontologists and displayed in realistic scenes that allow visitors to drive through and watch the dinosaurs roaring and moving. Linda Mcintosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Library bookstore open by appointment in response to news," 22 Feb. 2021 The data collected revealed that most prehistoric crocodiles were evolving at a slower rate over time, with a few outliers evolving faster. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, "Are Crocodiles Flawless? The Reptiles Haven’t Changed in 200 Million Years," 27 Jan. 2021 Each group of prehistoric reptiles in the Jurassic Quest tour occupies its own patch of asphalt in the stadium’s sprawling parking lot. Jessica Gelt, Los Angeles Times, "Jurassic Park-ing lot: Where dinosaurs star in an epic drive-thru for kids," 21 Jan. 2021 Capital punishment has a long history, which may even extend to prehistoric times, when early humans sought ways to rid their communities of incorrigible troublemakers. David P. Barash, The Conversation, "Executions don’t deter murder, despite the Trump administration’s push," 12 Jan. 2021 Dinosaur is the story of an iguanodon and his adoptive family of lemurs traveling to safety in prehistoric times. Josh Spiegel, Vulture, "A Crash Course in the History of Disney Animation Through Disney+," 11 Jan. 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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Last Updated

2 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prehistoric.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 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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