Anthropocene

[ an-thruh-puh-seen, an-throp-uh‐ ]
/ ˈæn θrə pəˌsin, ænˈθrɒp ə‐ /
Geology

adjective

noting or pertaining to a proposed epoch of the Quarternary Period, occurring in the present time, since mid-20th century, when human activity began to effect significant environmental consequences, specifically on ecosystems and climate.

noun

the Anthropocene Epoch.

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Origin of Anthropocene

First recorded in 1995–2000; anthropo- + -cene; coined in the early 1980s by Eugene F. Stoermer, U.S. biologist (1934–2002), and brought into general use by Paul J. Crutzen, who coined the word independently. Stoermer and Crutzen collaborated in an article published in 2000 proposing Anthropocene for the current geological epoch
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

What does Anthropocene mean?

The Anthropocene, or Anthropocene Epoch, is a proposed name for the geological epoch that we’re currently living in. The name is intended to indicate that human actions have had a significant and lasting impact on the environment since the Industrial Revolution.

Anthropocene is proposed as the name of the epoch that would succeed the official current epoch, the Holocene. Anthropocene has not been adopted by scientific consensus, but the term is frequently used in both scientific and popular contexts, especially when discussing climate change.

Example: No discussion about the Anthropocene is complete without examining the role of fossil fuels in changes to our climate and ecosystems.

Where does Anthropocene come from?

Anthropocene comes from anthropo- (borrowed from Greek and meaning “human”) and the combining form -cene (from the Greek kainós for “new” or “recent”). Anthropocene follows the naming pattern of previous epochs named by English geologist Charles Lyell, such as Holocene and Miocene.

Anthropocene was introduced by biologist Eugene Stoermer in the 1980s. Later, the chemist Paul Crutzen coined the word independently, and the two collaborated on an article published in 2000 that popularized the term.

According to current scientific consensus, the current epoch is the Holocene. It is said to have begun at the end of the last major ice age, about 10,000 years ago. A growing number of scientists propose that the Anthropocene should succeed the Holocene, citing evidence that human activity has begun to produce significant environmental consequences, specifically on ecosystems and climate. Some scientists mark the beginning of the Anthropocene as 1950, while others set its start as the Industrial Revolution, around the mid-1700s.

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What are some synonyms for Anthropocene?

  • human epoch

What are some words that share a root or word element with Anthropocene?

What are some words that often get used in discussing Anthropocene?

How is Anthropocene used in real life?

Although not an official term, Anthropocene is often used to emphasize the severity of the climate crisis.

Anthropocene was featured as the Word of the Day!

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True or False: Anthropocene was adopted as the official name for the current geological epoch in 1950.

British Dictionary definitions for anthropocene

Anthropocene
/ (ænˈθrɒpəˌsiːn) /

noun

the Anthropocene a proposed term for the present geological epoch (from the time of the Industrial Revolution onwards), during which humanity has begun to have a significant impact on the environment

Word Origin for Anthropocene

C21: from anthropo- and -cene, coined by Paul Crutzen (born 1933), Nobel-winning Dutch chemist
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