[pree-his-tuh-ree, -his-tree]

noun, plural pre·his·to·ries.

human history in the period before recorded events, known mainly through archaeological discoveries, study, research, etc.; history of prehistoric humans.
a history of the events or incidents leading to a crisis, situation, or the like.

Nearby words

  1. preheat,
  2. prehensible,
  3. prehensile,
  4. prehension,
  5. prehistoric,
  6. prehnite,
  7. prehominid,
  8. prehormone,
  9. prehuman,
  10. preictal

Origin of prehistory

First recorded in 1870–75; pre- + history

Related formspre·his·to·ri·an [pree-hi-stawr-ee-uh n, -stohr-] /ˌpri hɪˈstɔr i ən, -ˈstoʊr-/, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for prehistory

British Dictionary definitions for prehistory


noun plural -ries

the prehistoric period
the study of this period, relying entirely on archaeological evidence
Derived Formsprehistorian (ˌpriːhɪˈstɔːrɪən), noun

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 prehistory



1869, perhaps a back-formation from prehistoric. Related: Prehistorian.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper