Definition of fossil in English:

fossil

noun

  • 1The remains or impression of a prehistoric plant or animal embedded in rock and preserved in petrified form.

    ‘sites rich in fossils’
    as modifier ‘a fossil fish’
    • ‘All of these sites have yielded remarkably preserved Cambrian fossils, in large part due to rapid burial.’
    • ‘Then we use the dating of a recently discovered hominid fossil as a calibration point.’
    • ‘Shallow marine invertebrate fossils occur throughout the formation, but are mainly concentrated in four broad intervals.’
    • ‘The oldest true vertebrate fossils date back 530 million years.’
    • ‘Most geologists are familiar with the occurrence of plant compression fossils in bedded sedimentary rocks.’
    • ‘I decided that my own role could be to collect plant fossils for their research and museum collections.’
    • ‘Scientific testing has determined that the oldest dinosaur fossils are hundreds of millions of years old.’
    • ‘There is an abundance of shelly animal fossils.’
    • ‘Li and Ding interpreted such structures as metazoan trace fossils.’
    • ‘The decapod fossils are preserved in remarkable detail as molds and as body fossils.’
    • ‘Pasting on a fake smile, I nodded fervently, no longer eager to study silly fossils of dead organisms.’
    • ‘Two years ago, scientists described 5-million-year-old albatross fossils representing five different species.’
    • ‘Carboniferous and Permian strata often contain useful index fossils belonging to this group.’
    • ‘Almost no dinosaur fossils have been found from that time, particularly in North America.’
    • ‘Until recently, however, no sponge body fossils had been identified or described from this fauna.’
    • ‘Very few dinosaur fossils are actually found near this boundary.’
    • ‘Marine rocks commonly contain plant fossils but they are outnumbered by more common and spectacular shelly invertebrate fossils.’
    • ‘Consider three separately discovered archaic Homo sapiens fossils dating to around 150,000 years ago.’
    • ‘Other marine trace fossils, together with marine bivalves, have been described from the unit as a whole.’
    • ‘During that time new hominid fossils have been discovered in Africa.’
    petrified remains, petrified impression, cast, impression, mould, remnant, relic
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    1. 1.1derogatory, humorous A person or thing that is outdated or resistant to change.
      ‘he can be a cantankerous old fossil at times’
      • ‘Most of the other scholars were old fossils that seemed so fragile that the slightest breath of wind would keel them over.’
      • ‘For those of you who are surprised that a grumpy old fossil like me actually works on a computer, it is all t'Editor's fault.’
      • ‘Who would take care of that crazy old fossil then?’
      fogey, old fogey, conservative, traditionalist, conventionalist, diehard, conformist, bourgeois, museum piece, dinosaur, troglodyte
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    2. 1.2 A word or phrase that has become obsolete except in set phrases or forms, e.g. hue in hue and cry.
      • ‘A plaintiff, therefore, was originally just a person who made a complaint, but the word became a fossil of legal terminology many centuries ago.’
      • ‘It has usually been represented in ModE by gh, leaving its silent fossils in such words as dough, night, through, thought, thorough.’
      • ‘Old words become linguistic fossils as new words replace them in response to events and developments in a rapidly changing world.’

Origin

Mid 16th century (denoting a fossilized fish found, and believed to have lived, underground): from French fossile, from Latin fossilis ‘dug up’, from fodere ‘dig’.

Pronunciation

fossil

/ˈfɒsɪl//ˈfɒs(ə)l/