[pey-lee-uh n-tol-uh-jee or, esp. British, pal-ee-]
See more synonyms for paleontology on
noun, plural pa·le·on·tol·o·gies for 2.
  1. the science of the forms of life existing in former geologic periods, as represented by their fossils.
  2. 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. 2018

Related Words for paleontology

excavation, paleontology, paleology, prehistory, antiquarianism

Examples from the Web for paleontology

Contemporary Examples of paleontology

Historical Examples of paleontology

Word Origin and History for paleontology

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

paleontology in Science


  1. 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.

paleontology 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.