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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for fossilized
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We are still speaking of his fossilized herbaria, not his modern specimens.

    Life: Its True Genesis R. W. Wright
  • Myrtle fossilized them as suddenly as if she had been a Gorgon instead of a beauty.

    The Guardian Angel Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  • Wise men use the word 'fossilized' when they speak of what has happened to it.

    Our Little German Cousin Mary Hazelton Wade
  • It is strange indeed that these ethereal creatures should be fossilized at all.

    Butterflies Worth Knowing Clarence M. Weed
  • Comparative number of living and fossilized species of plants.

    Principles of Geology Charles Lyell
  • Had a bombshell been exploded among the fossilized professors it had been less disturbing.

    Pioneers of Science Oliver Lodge
  • He walked steadily on, leaving behind him the dogma that time had fossilized and man had forgot.

    Eden Edgar Saltus
  • What geologist would not wish to try his hammer on those rocks with their stony pages of fossilized history?

    Curiosities of the Sky Garrett Serviss
British Dictionary definitions for fossilized


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 fossilized



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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