Definition of prehistoric in English:



  • 1Relating to or denoting the period before written records.

    ‘prehistoric man’
    • ‘The naturally defensible site may even have been a prehistoric hillfort, and was certainly a stronghold of the Welsh princes.’
    • ‘Two later prehistoric hillforts stand on the edge of a steep slope with magnificent views westwards.’
    • ‘The bow and arrow were used throughout the late prehistoric period and into historic times.’
    • ‘The late prehistoric archaeological record at La Crosse is dominated by a series of Oneota village sites.’
    • ‘Inland, newly recorded cropmark sites include a prehistoric pit circle and a small Roman villa, set within a landscape of ancient fields.’
    • ‘Our knowledge of the vessels in use in the prehistoric period is still uncomfortably slight.’
    • ‘The richest source of all for prehistoric artefacts has been the Thames.’
    • ‘Iron has been used in the British Isles since the prehistoric Iron Age.’
    • ‘In the late prehistoric period, pine woodland was extensive in the Scottish Highlands and the west of Ireland.’
    • ‘No humans were around to make permanent records of prehistoric hurricanes.’
    • ‘Among sites recorded are a possible prehistoric earthwork enclosure and industrial remains.’
    • ‘Archaeologists have identified one of Britain's largest prehistoric hill forts in the North Yorkshire Moors.’
    • ‘There is, as yet, no convincing archaeological evidence for tin exploitation in the west of England in the prehistoric period.’
    • ‘We're looking at archaeology, of course, which is a record of prehistoric cultural evidence found in the ground.’
    • ‘A superficial investigation round these ponds usually reveals a few prehistoric sherds.’
    primitive, primeval, primordial, primal, earliest, ancient, early, antediluvian
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    1. 1.1informal Very old or out of date.
      ‘my dad's electric typewriter was a prehistoric machine’
      • ‘The hated yellow tiles on the Arndale Centre may be stuck in the Seventies but their replacements are positively prehistoric.’
      • ‘They are the oldest of old hat: ancient hat, prehistoric hat.’
      • ‘Without doubt, the best borrowing product around by far - they make traditional mortgages look positively prehistoric.’
      • ‘My Dad happens to be the oldest, a positively prehistoric forty two.’
      • ‘More impressive still is an eagle in flight, when its utter immensity seems almost prehistoric.’
      • ‘The woman cranks away vainly at a machine that looks prehistoric but the man thinks faster.’
      out of date, outdated, outmoded, old-fashioned, passé, ancient, antiquated, archaic, antique, superannuated, anachronistic, outworn, behind the times, primitive, medieval, quaint, old-fangled, obsolescent, obsolete, antediluvian, fossilized
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Mid 19th century: from French préhistorique (see pre-, historic).