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a markedly outdated or old-fashioned person or thing.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.
- fos·sil·like, adjective
- sub·fos·sil, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use fossil in a sentence
When I was young, I loved to dig and find and collect fossils.
And yet they proved to have the same virus fossils in the exact same chromosome amid billions of possibilities.
The scientists were able to extract sufficient DNA from the roots, and they did indeed find the virus fossils.
The earliest fossils of anatomically modern humans are from about 200,000 years ago.
“Megalodon fossils appear in shallower marine sediments,” Balk said.Shark Week Is Lying Again: Megalodon Is Definitely Extinct | David Shiffman | August 15, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
She told me that Luiz do Rego had sent home many fine minerals from the captaincy, and also some fossils.Journal of a Voyage to Brazil | Maria Graham
Most of the young fellows around here are in the Army, and the older men are frightful old fossils.The Everlasting Arms | Joseph Hocking
Judge Leslie is dotty on that subject, and so are a good many of the other old fossils of Rosewater.Ancestors | Gertrude Atherton
Not only do we view these allusions as relics, but we may as justly consider them in the light of literary fossils.A Cursory History of Swearing | Julian Sharman
Imbedded in these grotesques of sandstone were fossils of wood, of fresh-water shells, and of fishes.Overland | John William De Forest
British Dictionary definitions for fossil
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
a person, idea, thing, etc, that is outdated or incapable of change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
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
Scientific definitions for fossil
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.
- fossilize verb
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Cultural definitions for 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.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.