[pen-suh l-veyn-yuh n, -vey-nee-uh n]
  1. of or relating to the state of Pennsylvania.
  2. Geology. noting or pertaining to a period of the Paleozoic Era, occurring from about 310 to 280 million years ago and characterized by warm climates, swampy land areas, and the development of insects and reptiles: sometimes considered as an epoch of the Carboniferous Period.
  1. a native or inhabitant of Pennsylvania.
  2. Geology. the Pennsylvanian Period or System.

Origin of Pennsylvanian

First recorded in 1675–85; Pennsylvani(a) + -an Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Contemporary Examples of pennsylvanian

Historical Examples of pennsylvanian

British Dictionary definitions for pennsylvanian


  1. of the state of Pennsylvania
  2. (in North America) of, denoting, or formed in the upper of two divisions of the Carboniferous period, which lasted 30 million years, during which coal measures were formedSee also Mississippian (def. 2)
  1. an inhabitant or native of the state of Pennsylvania
  2. the Pennsylvanian the Pennsylvanian period or rock system, equivalent to the Upper Carboniferous of Europe
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 pennsylvanian



1698, from Pennsylvania + -an. In reference to a geological system, attested from 1891. As a noun meaning "a person of Pennsylvania," by 1685.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pennsylvanian in Science


  1. The sixth period of the Paleozoic Era, from about 320 to 286 million years ago. Rock deposits from this period of time alternate between being marine and terrestrial in origin, and are rich in coal. Reptiles first appeared in the Pennsylvanian Period. See Chart at geologic time.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.