[kam-bree-uh n]
  1. Geology. noting or pertaining to a period of the Paleozoic Era, occurring from 570 million to 500 million years ago, when algae and marine invertebrates were the predominant form of life.
  2. of or relating to Cambria; Welsh.
  1. Geology. the Cambrian Period or System.
  2. a native of Cambria; Welshman.

Origin of Cambrian

1580–90; < Medieval Latin Cambri(a) Wales, Latinization of MWelsh Cymry Wales, literally Welshmen (see Cymry) + -an
Related formspost-Cam·bri·an, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for cambrian


  1. of, denoting, or formed in the first 65 million years of the Palaeozoic era, during which marine invertebrates, esp trilobites, flourished
  2. of or relating to Wales
  1. the Cambrian the Cambrian period or rock system
  2. a Welsh person
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

Word Origin and History for cambrian



1650s, "from or of Wales or the Welsh," from Cambria, variant of Cumbria, Latinized derivation of Cymry, the name of the Welsh for themselves, from Old Celtic Combroges "compatriots." Geological sense (of rocks first studied in Wales and Cumberland) is from 1836.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cambrian in Science


[kămbrē-ən, kām-]
  1. The first period of the Paleozoic Era, from about 540 to 505 million years ago. During this time warm seas and desert land areas were widespread, and animal life diversified rapidly during what is known as the Cambrian Explosion. See Chart at geologic time.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.