pre·​his·​to·​ry ˌprē-ˈhi-st(ə-)rē How to pronounce prehistory (audio)
: the study of prehistoric humankind
: a history of the antecedents of an event, situation, or thing
: the prehistoric period of human evolution

Examples of prehistory in a Sentence

We are learning about the prehistory of North America.
Recent Examples on the Web The intellectual and ideological training apparatus in the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (more commonly known as the Nazi Party) contained a specialized group for German prehistory. Petar Parvanov, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 July 2023 Creating the ne plus ultra of the jazz avant-garde while reclaiming the prehistory that underlay it, Ayler reconceived its place in Black American culture. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 18 July 2023 The discovery of additional dinosaur fossils soon followed, a trove of prehistory wrested from ironstone and clay. Joe Heim, Washington Post, 12 July 2023 Tourism campaigns tout the archipelago as a diorama of prehistory. J. R. Patterson, The Atlantic, 3 July 2023 As such, the process of paleontology is much more than a tour of the planet’s prehistory, providing opportunities to appreciate, anticipate and manage climate change for today, and for tomorrow, too. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 30 Mar. 2023 As the journalist Christopher Matthews pointed out decades ago, the public sees Democrats as the Mommy Party and Republicans as the Daddy Party, with Mommy and Daddy adhering to stereotypes rooted in prehistory. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 30 June 2023 Consequently, at the start of the 21st century, our understanding of polar prehistory was lean. Bridget Alex, Discover Magazine, 26 Nov. 2019 Hotez sketches in a prehistory of the phenomenon, starting in 1806, when the British physician Edward Jenner, who had created the world’s first vaccine, against smallpox, was able to trade on his international reputation to secure the release of English prisoners during the Napoleonic Wars. Jerome Groopman, The New Yorker, 29 Mar. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prehistory.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1871, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of prehistory was in 1871

Dictionary Entries Near prehistory

Cite this Entry

“Prehistory.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


pre·​his·​to·​ry (ˈ)prē-ˈhis-t(ə-)rē How to pronounce prehistory (audio)
: the study of prehistoric man
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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