[nee-an-der-thawl, -tawl, -tahl; ney-ahn-der-tahl]
  1. Neanderthal man.
  2. (often lowercase) Informal.
    1. an unenlightened or ignorant person; barbarian.
    2. a reactionary; a person with very old-fashioned ideas.
Also Ne·an·der·tal [nee-an-der-tawl, -tahl; ney-ahn-der-tahl] /niˈæn dərˌtɔl, -ˌtɑl; neɪˈɑn dərˌtɑl/ (for defs 1, 3).

Origin of Neanderthal

First recorded in 1860–65; after Neanderthal, valley in Germany, near Düsseldorf, where evidence of Neanderthal man was first found
Related formsNe·an·der·thal·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for neanderthal

Contemporary Examples of neanderthal

Historical Examples of neanderthal

  • In truth, the Neanderthal cranium has most extraordinary characters.

  • It seemed but a step to the Neanderthal skull and our Troglodyte forbears.

    A Labrador Doctor

    Wilfred Thomason Grenfell

  • In stature, no important divergence from the Neanderthal type can be noted.

    Prehistoric Man

    W. L. H. Duckworth

  • Herein they are strongly contrasted with skeletons of the Neanderthal group.

    Prehistoric Man

    W. L. H. Duckworth

  • Of these four, the Neanderthal type is regarded as the most ancient.

    Prehistoric Man

    W. L. H. Duckworth

British Dictionary definitions for neanderthal


  1. relating to or characteristic of Neanderthal man
  2. primitive; uncivilized
  3. informal ultraconservative; reactionary
  1. a person showing any such characteristics
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 neanderthal



1861, in reference to a type of extinct hominid, from German Neanderthal "Neander Valley," name of a gorge near Düsseldorf where humanoid fossils were identified in 1856. The place name is from the Graecized form of Joachim Neumann (literally "new man," Greek *neo-ander), 1650-1680, German pastor, poet and hymn-writer, who made this a favorite spot in the 1670s. Adopting a classical form of one's surname was a common practice among educated Germans in this era. As a noun, by 1915; as a type f a big, brutish, stupid person from 1926.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

neanderthal in Science


[nē-ăndər-thôl′, -tôl′]Neandertal (nē-ăndər-tôl′)
  1. An extinct variety of human that lived throughout Europe and in parts of western Asia and northern Africa during the late Pleistocene Epoch, until about 30,000 years ago. Neanderthals had a stocky build and large skulls with thick eyebrow ridges and big teeth. They usually lived in caves, made flaked stone tools, and were the earliest humans known to bury their dead. Neanderthals were either a subspecies of modern humans (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) or a separate, closely related species (Homo neanderthalensis). They coexisted with early modern humans (Cro-Magnons) for several thousand years before becoming extinct, but are not generally believed to have interbred with them. See also Mousterian.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

neanderthal in Culture


[(nee-an-duhr-thawl, nee-an-duhr-tawl)]

The ancient and now extinct relatives of modern humans. Neanderthals lived in Europe about 150,000 years ago and were the earliest form of the human species, Homo sapiens.


The term Neanderthal is sometimes used to refer to a person who is thought to have primitive or unenlightened ideas: “I tried talking politics to Joe, but he's a real Neanderthal.”
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.