pre·​his·​to·​ry | \ ˌprē-ˈhi-st(ə-)rē How to pronounce prehistory (audio) \

Definition of prehistory

1 : the study of prehistoric humankind
2 : a history of the antecedents of an event, situation, or thing
3 : 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

In the prehistory of human creativity, the invention of drawing combines a new skill and a new tool. Robert Lee Hotz, WSJ, "Is This the World’s Oldest Hashtag?," 12 Sep. 2018 But after the pair joined a field trip to Australia with American Museum of Natural History staff in the early 1970s, Vickers-Rich was hooked on the continent’s prehistory. Katie Worth, Scientific American, "When Scientists Are Mad about Each Other," 14 Feb. 2014 Along with the basics — the space was designed by César Pelli, constructed in 1988 — the history lingered on the prehistory. Brian Seibert, New York Times, "At River to River Festival, Dancing Amid the Mundane and Majestic," 17 June 2018 Drug use almost certainly began in prehistory and spread with migrations. Andrew Lawler, Science | AAAS, "Did ancient Mesopotamians get high? Near Eastern rituals may have included opium, cannabis," 19 Apr. 2018 Scientists have struggled to peer into the prehistory of Southeast Asia because the region’s hot, humid climate tends to degrade DNA. Lizzie Wade, Science | AAAS, "How rice farming may have spread across the ancient world," 17 May 2018 This three-pronged mixture of indigenous hunter-gatherers, early farmers, and a later wave of migrants parallels the prehistory of Europe, also illuminated by ancient DNA in recent years. Lizzie Wade, Science | AAAS, "How rice farming may have spread across the ancient world," 17 May 2018 This phenomenon has been observed since ancient times and may be one of the earliest astronomical observations in human prehistory. Tom Metcalfe /, NBC News, "What is the summer solstice?," 20 June 2018 Join an expert prehistory guide, an author and authority on the Cro Magnon sites of the region, to visit Rouffignac, Font de Gaume, Abri Cap Blanc, Lascaux II [worth noting that some of these need to be booked months in advance]. Jack Dancy, Town & Country, "How to Plan a Trip to Europe," 5 Oct. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prehistory.' 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 prehistory

1871, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of prehistory was in 1871

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English Language Learners Definition of prehistory

: the period of time in the past before people could write : the time before history was written down
: the time and events that came before and led to the development of something

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with prehistory

Comments on prehistory

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a strong desire or propensity

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