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[pe-truh-fak-shuh n] /ˌpɛ trəˈfæk ʃən/
the act or process of petrifying; the state of being petrified.
something petrified.
Also, petrification
[pe-truh-fi-key-shuh n] /ˌpɛ trə fɪˈkeɪ ʃən/ (Show IPA)
Origin of petrifaction
1640-50; petri- + -faction < Latin factiōn- (stem of factiō) a making. See petrify, faction1
Related forms
petrifactive, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for petrification
Historical Examples
  • The mistake lies in wishing to escape from it by a petrification of our joys.

    Days Off

    Henry Van Dyke
  • An Addition to the Instances of petrification, formerly enumerated.

  • The reign of justice could only be the reign of silence and of petrification.

  • I stared in petrification at Lukynitch; I had not expected this, I admit.

  • While wandering through the valley of the Clearwater and the adjacent hills, I was much struck with the wonders of petrification.

    Memoirs of Orange Jacobs Orange Jacobs
  • One day the Major met a company of miners, and related to them the wonderful specimens of petrification seen by him that day.

    Memoirs of Orange Jacobs Orange Jacobs
  • When she departed, as she did in a state bordering on petrification, he came forward to the bedside.

    Theo Mrs. Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • He would be freed, for ever, from the petrification of the grey, cramping little city.

    The Rough Road

    William John Locke
  • This is a startling fact for natural philosophers, and must cause them to modify the existing theory of petrification.

  • On the lifeboat for those first seconds a silence of petrification reigned.

    The Messenger

    Elizabeth Robins
British Dictionary definitions for petrification


the act or process of forming petrified organic material
the state of being petrified
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 petrification

1610s, from French petrification (16c.), Latinized noun of action from Middle French pétrifier (see petrify). Etymologically better than the more common petrifaction.



early 15c., "action or process of hardening," from petrify on model of satisfaction, etc.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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petrification in Medicine

petrifaction pet·ri·fac·tion (pět'rə-fāk'shən) or pet·ri·fi·ca·tion (-fĭ-kā'shən)
A process of fossilization in which dissolved minerals replace organic matter.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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petrification in Science
petrifaction (pět'rə-fāk'shən) also petrification
The process by which organic materials are turned into rock. Petrifaction occurs when water that is rich with inorganic minerals, such as calcium carbonate or silica, passes slowly through organic matter, such as wood or bone, replacing its cellular structure with minerals.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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