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3 : regarded as being outdated or outmoded prehistoric attitudes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 Next up for the couple is a model of a pelagornis: a prehistoric bird that will stand six feet tall and have a 25-foot wingspan. Washington Post, "Virginia sculptor creates huge mythical monster for exhibit," 19 Jan. 2020 These are sort of prehistoric ancestors of today’s navigation systems. Larry Printz, Ars Technica, "Turn-by-turntables: How drivers got from point A to point B in the early 1900s," 6 Jan. 2020 Madgwick, the study’s lead author, previously helmed a study that found pig bones at Stonehenge originated across the British Isles—also a sign that people were making long treks to feast at the prehistoric monument. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, "People Trekked Across Ireland to Eat Pork at This Ancient Site," 31 Dec. 2019 Classical art is indeed an inspiration, but then, no more than Kewpie dolls, or prehistoric ironing boards. Françoise Mouly, The New Yorker, "Bruce McCall’s “A Brush with Greatness”," 6 Jan. 2020 Per a from the museum, prehistoric bowstrings are among the rarest archaeological finds. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "What We Can Learn From Ötzi the Iceman’s Hunting Pack," 3 Jan. 2020 This happy accident allowed prehistoric people to domesticate yeast in much the same way they domesticated crop plants and livestock animals, and produce the cheeses and yogurts billions of people enjoy today. John Morrissey, Quartz, "A chance encounter between a fruit fly and a pail of milk gave us cheese," 11 Dec. 2019 That wear pattern is unusual in Roman remains and is more commonly found in prehistoric people. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Missing Box Contains Bones of Britain’s Early Inhabitants," 1 Oct. 2019 In Northern Ireland, not far from the city of Armagh, sits the archaeological site of Navan Fort, a prehistoric hub linked to historic kings and legendary heroes. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, "People Trekked Across Ireland to Eat Pork at This Ancient Site," 31 Dec. 2019

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of prehistoric was in 1832

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Statistics for prehistoric

Last Updated

3 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prehistoric.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 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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