[pey-lee-uh n-tol-uh-jee or, esp. British, pal-ee-]

noun, plural pa·le·on·tol·o·gies for 2.

the science of the forms of life existing in former geologic periods, as represented by their fossils.
a treatise on paleontology.

Origin of paleontology

From the French word paléontologie, dating back to 1830–40. See pale(o)-, ontology
Related formspa·le·on·to·log·ic [pey-lee-on-tl-oj-ik or, esp. British, pal-ee-] /ˌpeɪ liˌɒn tlˈɒdʒ ɪk or, esp. British, ˌpæl i-/, pa·le·on·to·log·i·cal, adjectivepa·le·on·to·log·i·cal·ly, adverbpa·le·on·tol·o·gist, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for paleontologist

paleontologist, excavator, classicist

Examples from the Web for paleontologist

Contemporary Examples of paleontologist

Historical Examples of paleontologist

  • He then proceeds to theorize, hand in hand with the paleontologist, or student of ancient life.


    Allen Chaffee

  • It is a desert to the agriculturist, a mine to the paleontologist, and a paradise to the artist.

  • The paleontologist now reached up to a geometrical plane and brought down another small fossil.

  • The paleontologist removed the confounded monocle from his eye, and wiped the lens with a bit of chamois skin.

  • My good friend the paleontologist is in greater danger than he realizes, when he leaves descriptions and attempts explanation.

Word Origin and History for paleontologist

1836, from paleontology + -ist.



1833, probably from French paléontologie, from Greek palaios "old, ancient" (see paleo-) + ontologie (see ontology). Related: Paleontological.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

paleontologist in Science



The scientific study of life in the geologic past, especially through the study of animal and plant fossils.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

paleontologist in Culture



The study of ancient life forms, particularly as they are seen in fossils.

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.