Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[pey-lee-uh-lith-ik or, esp. British, pal-ee-] /ˌpeɪ li əˈlɪθ ɪk or, esp. British, ˌpæl i-/
(sometimes lowercase) Anthropology. of, relating to, or characteristic of the cultures of the late Pliocene and the Pleistocene epochs, or early phase of the Stone Age, which appeared first in Africa and are marked by the steady development of stone tools and later antler and bone artifacts, engravings on bone and stone, sculpted figures, and paintings and engravings on the walls of caves and rock-shelters: usually divided into three periods (Lower Paleolithic, c2,000,000–c200,000 b.c., Middle Paleolithic, c150,000–c40,000 b.c., Upper Paleolithic, c40,000–c10,000 b.c.)
Origin of Paleolithic
First recorded in 1860-65; paleo- + -lithic
Related forms
prepaleolithic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for Paleolithic
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Paleolithic man still died, because he did not have enough real knowledge in his mortal mind to keep him from missing the mark.

    Carmen Ariza Charles Francis Stocking
  • The probable data for the Paleolithic Age have formed the subject of this chapter.

    The Prehistoric World E. A. Allen
  • Paleolithic man lived in France poorly armed and ill-protected against a threatening climate steadily changing for the worse.

  • The axe of Paleolithic time had had nearly the shape of an almond.

  • About this time, a Paleolithic family may have encamped on the side of the cliff near a little stream which can still be traced.

    The Romance of Plant Life G. F. Scott Elliot
  • This is the last time I trust myself to one of these Paleolithic contrivances.

    The War in the Air Herbert George Wells
  • Redruth is under the shadow of Carn Brea, the home of Paleolithic man.

    Cornish Saints and Sinners J. Henry Harris
  • Paleolithic, Neolithic, Technological—I don't even know what time it is.

    The Ego Machine Henry Kuttner
Word Origin and History for Paleolithic



of or pertaining to the Earlier Stone Age (opposed to neolithic), 1865, coined by John Lubbock, later Baron Avebury (1834-1913), from paleo- + Greek lithos "stone" + -ic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Paleolithic in Science
The cultural period of the Stone Age that began about 2.5 to 2 million years ago, marked by the earliest use of tools made of chipped stone. The Paleolithic Period ended at different times in different parts of the world, generally around 10,000 years ago in Europe and the Middle East. Also called Old Stone Age. ◇ The Lower Paleolithic is by far the longest division of this period, lasting until about 200,000 years ago and characterized by hammerstones and simple core tools such as hand axes and cleavers. The earliest tools belong to the Oldowan tool culture and may have been made by australopithecines as well as by Homo habilis. Later Lower Paleolithic cultures include the Abbevilian, Clactonian, Acheulian, and Levalloisian, associated with early Homo erectus. ◇ The Middle Paleolithic is generally dated to about 40,000 years ago and is associated with archaic Homo sapiens, primarily the Neanderthals and their Mousterian tool culture. The tools produced during this period represent improvements on those of the Lower Paleolithic, especially in flaking techniques, but remain little changed throughout the duration of the period. ◇ The Upper Paleolithic dates to about 10,000 years ago in Europe and the Middle East and is associated with modern Homo sapiens. Various distinctive local tool cultures such as the Aurignacian, Solutrean, and Magdalenian flourished during this relatively brief period, producing a great variety of skillfully flaked tools as well as tools made of bone, antler, wood, and other materials. Compare Mesolithic, Neolithic.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for Paleolithic

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for Paleolithic

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for paleolithic