- any remains, impression, or trace of a living thing of a former geologic age, as a skeleton, footprint, etc.
- a markedly outdated or old-fashioned person or thing.
- a linguistic form that is archaic except in certain restricted contexts, as nonce in for the nonce, or that follows a rule or pattern that is no longer productive, as the sentence So be it.
- of the nature of a fossil: fossil insects.
- belonging to a past epoch or discarded system; antiquated: a fossil approach to economics.
Origin of fossil
Related Words for fossilsspecimen, relic, skeleton, trace, impression, deposit, reconstruction, neolith, eolith, paleolith, petrifaction
Examples from the Web for fossils
Contemporary Examples of fossils
The black market trade in fossils stolen from the richest Cretaceous fossil locality in the world has prompted a crackdown.
And if the fossils go to a private collector, they are effectively lost to paleontology and the public for good.
Fossils, skulls, and hominid exhibitions throughout the caves are quite something.Gal With a Suitcase
July 10, 2010
Historical Examples of fossils
What is the nature of the fossils in the earliest layers of stratified rock?The Meaning of Evolution
Samuel Christian Schmucker
From this it was only a step to the earth's strata, fossils, crystals—a fresh lecture.The Great Hunger
On one of the floors below the fossils, they have a reconstructed dodo.The Book of the Damned
Notwithstanding its great thickness, this formation is very barren in fossils.Old Mackinaw
W. P. Strickland.
Tertullian asserted that fossils resulted from the flood of Noah.The Necessity of Atheism
Dr. D.M. Brooks
- a relic, remnant, or representation of an organism that existed in a past geological age, or of the activity of such an organism, occurring in the form of mineralized bones, shells, etc, as casts, impressions, and moulds, and as frozen perfectly preserved organisms
- (as modifier)fossil insects
- informal, derogatory
- a person, idea, thing, etc, that is outdated or incapable of change
- (as modifier)fossil politicians
- linguistics a form once current but now appearing only in one or two special contexts, as for example stead, which is found now only in instead (of) and in phrases like in his stead
- obsolete any rock or mineral dug out of the earth
Word Origin for fossil
1610s, "any thing dug up;" 1650s (adj.) "obtained by digging," from French fossile (16c.), from Latin fossilis "dug up," from fossus, past participle of fodere "to dig," from PIE root *bhedh- "to dig, pierce."
Restricted noun sense of "geological remains of a plant or animal" is from 1736; slang meaning "old person" first recorded 1859. Fossil fuel (1835) preserves the earlier, broader sense.
- 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.
The evidence in rock of the presence of a plant or an animal from an earlier geological period. Fossils are formed when minerals in groundwater replace materials in bones and tissue, creating a replica in stone of the original organism or of their tracks. The study of fossils is the domain of paleontology. The oldest fossils (of bacteria) are 3.8 billion years old.