See more synonyms for fossilize on
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.
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.
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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for fossilized

Contemporary Examples of fossilized

Historical Examples of fossilized

  • We are still speaking of his fossilized herbaria, not his modern specimens.

  • Myrtle fossilized them as suddenly as if she had been a Gorgon instead of a beauty.

    The Guardian Angel

    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

  • Wise men use the word 'fossilized' when they speak of what has happened to it.

    Our Little German Cousin

    Mary Hazelton Wade

  • It is strange indeed that these ethereal creatures should be fossilized at all.

  • Comparative number of living and fossilized species of plants.

British Dictionary definitions for fossilized



  1. to convert or be converted into a fossil
  2. to become or cause to become antiquated or inflexible
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 fossilized



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper