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[fos-uh-lahyz] /ˈfɒs əˌlaɪz/
verb (used with object), fossilized, fossilizing.
Geology. to convert into a fossil; replace organic with mineral substances in the remains of an organism.
to change as if into mere lifeless remains or traces of the past.
to make rigidly antiquated:
Time has fossilized such methods.
verb (used without object), fossilized, fossilizing.
to become a fossil or like a fossil:
The plant fossilized in comparatively recent geologic time.
Linguistics. (of a linguistic form, feature, rule, etc.) to become permanently established in the interlanguage of a second-language learner in a form that is deviant from the target-language norm and that continues to appear in performance regardless of further exposure to the target language.
Also, especially British, fossilise.
Origin of fossilize
First recorded in 1785-95; fossil + -ize
Related forms
fossilizable, adjective
fossilization, noun
semifossilized, adjective
unfossilized, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for fossilization
Historical Examples
  • Such hard parts or shells were commonly favorable for fossilization.

    Geology William J. Miller
  • To evoking the instincts of bygone ages, which have not been preserved by fossilization?

    More Hunting Wasps J. Henri Fabre
  • Till men began to wonder at the stratification of rocks, and the fossilization of shells, there was no science of Geology.

    Westminster Sermons Charles Kingsley
  • A very common kind of fossilization is the preservation of only the hard parts of organisms.

    Geology William J. Miller
  • Glimpses there were of the handy, affectionate, sympathizing woman, emerging from fossilization.

    Idolatry Julian Hawthorne
British Dictionary definitions for fossilization


to convert or be converted into a fossil
to become or cause to become antiquated or inflexible
Derived Forms
fossilizable, fossilisable, adjective
fossilization, fossilisation, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for fossilization



1794, from fossil + -ize. Figurative use from 1856. Related: Fossilized; fossilizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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