Dictionary.com

Paleolithic

[ pey-lee-uh-lith-ik or, especially British, pal-ee- ]
/ ˌpeɪ li əˈlɪθ ɪk or, especially British, ˌpæl i- /
Save This Word!

adjective
(sometimes lowercase)Anthropology. of, relating to, or characteristic of the cultures of the late Pliocene and the Pleistocene epochs, or early phase of the Stone Age, which appeared first in Africa and are marked by the steady development of stone tools and later antler and bone artifacts, engravings on bone and stone, sculpted figures, and paintings and engravings on the walls of caves and rock-shelters: usually divided into three periods (Lower Paleolithic, c2,000,000–c200,000 b.c., Middle Paleolithic, c150,000–c40,000 b.c., Upper Paleolithic, c40,000–c10,000 b.c.).

COMPARE MEANINGS

Click for a side-by-side comparison of meanings. Use the word comparison feature to learn the differences between similar and commonly confused words.
QUIZ
QUIZ YOURSELF ON “ITS” VS. “IT’S”!
Apostrophes can be tricky; prove you know the difference between "it’s" and "its" in this crafty quiz!
Question 1 of 8
On the farm, the feed for chicks is significantly different from the roosters’; ______ not even comparable.

Origin of Paleolithic

First recorded in 1860–65; paleo- + -lithic

OTHER WORDS FROM Paleolithic

pre·pa·le·o·lith·ic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use Paleolithic in a sentence

Scientific definitions for Paleolithic

Paleolithic
[ pā′lē-ə-lĭthĭk ]

The cultural period of the Stone Age that began about 2.5 to 2 million years ago, marked by the earliest use of tools made of chipped stone. The Paleolithic Period ended at different times in different parts of the world, generally around 10,000 years ago in Europe and the Middle East. Also called Old Stone Age♦ The Lower Paleolithic is by far the longest division of this period, lasting until about 200,000 years ago and characterized by hammerstones and simple core tools such as hand axes and cleavers. The earliest tools belong to the Oldowan tool culture and may have been made by australopithecines as well as by Homo habilis. Later Lower Paleolithic cultures include the Abbevilian, Clactonian, Acheulian, and Levalloisian, associated with early Homo erectus.♦ The Middle Paleolithic is generally dated to about 40,000 years ago and is associated with archaic Homo sapiens, primarily the Neanderthals and their Mousterian tool culture. The tools produced during this period represent improvements on those of the Lower Paleolithic, especially in flaking techniques, but remain little changed throughout the duration of the period.♦ The Upper Paleolithic dates to about 10,000 years ago in Europe and the Middle East and is associated with modern Homo sapiens. Various distinctive local tool cultures such as the Aurignacian, Solutrean, and Magdalenian flourished during this relatively brief period, producing a great variety of skillfully flaked tools as well as tools made of bone, antler, wood, and other materials. Compare Mesolithic Neolithic.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
FEEDBACK