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See more synonyms for fossilize on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), fos·sil·ized, fos·sil·iz·ing.
  1. Geology. to convert into a fossil; replace organic with mineral substances in the remains of an organism.
  2. to change as if into mere lifeless remains or traces of the past.
  3. to make rigidly antiquated: Time has fossilized such methods.
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verb (used without object), fos·sil·ized, fos·sil·iz·ing.
  1. to become a fossil or like a fossil: The plant fossilized in comparatively recent geologic time.
  2. 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.
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Also especially British, fos·sil·ise.

Origin of fossilize

First recorded in 1785–95; fossil + -ize
Related formsfos·sil·iz·a·ble, adjectivefos·sil·i·za·tion, nounsem·i·fos·sil·ized, adjectiveun·fos·sil·ized, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for fossilize

dwindle, wilt, wither, shrink, stiffen, thicken, indurate, freeze, harden, congeal, solidify, petrify, fossilize, set, clarify, calcify, mineralize, lapidify, welter, sear

Examples from the Web for fossilize

Historical Examples of fossilize

  • It took twenty million years to make the fish and to fossilize him so we'd have the evidence later.

    Mark Twain, A Biography, 1835-1910, Complete

    Albert Bigelow Paine

  • And he was able to guess, although he could not move his limbs to test it, that he was in the form in which he was to fossilize.

    It Never Can Happen Again

    William De Morgan

  • When you stiffen up a way of life and try to fossilize it so it'll stay that way forever, then you find you've lost it.

    The Syndic

    C.M. Kornbluth

  • In these fringing woods are some curious dripping crags which fossilize every article submitted to their influence.

  • Cartilaginous jaws would not fossilize, and the Ostracoderms may have possessed them.

    The Origin of Vertebrates

    Walter Holbrook Gaskell

British Dictionary definitions for fossilize



  1. to convert or be converted into a fossil
  2. to become or cause to become antiquated or inflexible
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Derived Formsfossilizable or fossilisable, adjectivefossilization or 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

Word Origin and History for fossilize


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

fossilize in Science


  1. The remains or imprint of an organism from a previous geologic time. A fossil can consist of the preserved tissues of an organism, as when encased in amber, ice, or pitch, or more commonly of the hardened relic of such tissues, as when organic matter is replaced by dissolved minerals. Hardened fossils are often found in layers of sedimentary rock and along the beds of rivers that flow through them. See also index fossil microfossil trace fossil.
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Related formsfossilize verb
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.