What does Fossil mean?

Definitions for Fossil
ˈfɒs əlfos·sil

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word Fossil.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. dodo, fogy, fogey, fossilnoun

    someone whose style is out of fashion

  2. fossiladjective

    the remains (or an impression) of a plant or animal that existed in a past geological age and that has been excavated from the soil

  3. fossiladjective

    characteristic of a fossil


  1. Fossiladjective

    preserved from a previous geological age; as, fossil water from deep wells; -- usually implying that the object so described has had its substance modified by long residence in the ground, but also used (as with fossil water) in cases where chemical composition is not altered.


  1. fossilnoun

    The mineralized remains of an animal or plant.

  2. fossilnoun

    Any preserved evidence of ancient life, including shells, imprints, burrows, coprolites, and organically-produced chemicals.

  3. fossilnoun

    A fossilized term.

  4. fossilnoun

    Anything extremely old, extinct, or outdated.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. FOSSILadjective

    That which is dug out of the earth.

    Etymology: fossilis, Latin; fossile, French.

    The fossil shells are many of them of the same kinds with those that now appear upon the neighbouring shores; and the rest such as may be presumed to be at the bottom of the adjacent seas. John Woodward, Natural History.

    Fossil or rock salt, and sal gemm, differ not in nature from each other; nor from the common salt of salt springs, or that of the sea, when pure. John Woodward, Natural History.

    It is of a middle nature, between fossil and animal, being produced from animal excrements, intermixed with vegetable salts. John Arbuthnot, on Aliments.

  2. Fossilnoun

    In this globe are many other bodies, which, because we discover them by digging into the bowels of the earth, are called by one common name fossils; under which are comprehended metals and minerals.

    John Locke.

    Many kinds of fossils are very oddly and elegantly shaped. Richard Bentley, Sermons.

    By the word fossil, used as a denomination of one of three general divisions of natural productions, we understand bodies formed usually within the earth, sometimes on its surface, and sometimes in waters; of a plain and simple structure, in which there is no visible difference of parts, no distinction of vessels and their contents, but every portion of which is similar to and perfect as the whole. John Hill, Mat. Med.


  1. Fossil

    A fossil (from Classical Latin fossilis, lit. 'obtained by digging') is any preserved remains, impression, or trace of any once-living thing from a past geological age. Examples include bones, shells, exoskeletons, stone imprints of animals or microbes, objects preserved in amber, hair, petrified wood and DNA remnants. The totality of fossils is known as the fossil record. Paleontology is the study of fossils: their age, method of formation, and evolutionary significance. Specimens are usually considered to be fossils if they are over 10,000 years old. The oldest fossils are around 3.48 billion years old to 4.1 billion years old. The observation in the 19th century that certain fossils were associated with certain rock strata led to the recognition of a geological timescale and the relative ages of different fossils. The development of radiometric dating techniques in the early 20th century allowed scientists to quantitatively measure the absolute ages of rocks and the fossils they host. There are many processes that lead to fossilization, including permineralization, casts and molds, authigenic mineralization, replacement and recrystallization, adpression, carbonization, and bioimmuration. Fossils vary in size from one-micrometre (1 µm) bacteria to dinosaurs and trees, many meters long and weighing many tons. A fossil normally preserves only a portion of the deceased organism, usually that portion that was partially mineralized during life, such as the bones and teeth of vertebrates, or the chitinous or calcareous exoskeletons of invertebrates. Fossils may also consist of the marks left behind by the organism while it was alive, such as animal tracks or feces (coprolites). These types of fossil are called trace fossils or ichnofossils, as opposed to body fossils. Some fossils are biochemical and are called chemofossils or biosignatures.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Fossiladjective

    dug out of the earth; as, fossil coal; fossil salt

  2. Fossiladjective

    like or pertaining to fossils; contained in rocks, whether petrified or not; as, fossil plants, shells

  3. Fossilnoun

    a substance dug from the earth

  4. Fossilnoun

    the remains of an animal or plant found in stratified rocks. Most fossils belong to extinct species, but many of the later ones belong to species still living

  5. Fossilnoun

    a person whose views and opinions are extremely antiquated; one whose sympathies are with a former time rather than with the present

  6. Etymology: [L. fossilis, fr. fodere to dig: cf. F. fossile. See Fosse.]


  1. Fossil

    Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of animals, plants, and other organisms from the remote past. The totality of fossils, both discovered and undiscovered, and their placement in fossiliferous rock formations and sedimentary layers is known as the fossil record. The study of fossils across geological time, how they were formed, and the evolutionary relationships between taxa are some of the most important functions of the science of paleontology. Such a preserved specimen is called a "fossil" if it is older than some minimum age, most often the arbitrary date of 10,000 years. Hence, fossils range in age from the youngest at the start of the Holocene Epoch to the oldest from the Archaean Eon, up to 3.4 billion years old. The observation that certain fossils were associated with certain rock strata led early geologists to recognize a geological timescale in the 19th century. The development of radiometric dating techniques in the early 20th century allowed geologists to determine the numerical or "absolute" age of the various strata and thereby the included fossils.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Fossil

    fos′il, n. the petrified remains of an animal or vegetable found embedded in the strata of the earth's crust: anything antiquated.—adj. dug out of the earth: in the condition of a fossil: antiquated.—adj. Fossilif′erous, bearing or containing fossils.—n. Fossilificā′tion, the act of becoming fossil.—vs.t. Fossil′ify, Foss′ilīse, to convert into a fossil.—v.i. to be changed into a stony or fossil state.—ns. Fossilisā′tion, a changing into a fossil; Foss′ilism, the science of fossils; Foss′ilist, one skilled in fossils; Fossilol′ogy, Fossil′ogy, paleontology. [Fr. fossile—L. fossilisfodĕre, to dig.]

The New Hacker's Dictionary

  1. fossil

    1. In software, a misfeature that becomes understandable only in historical context, as a remnant of times past retained so as not to break compatibility. Example: the retention of octal as default base for string escapes in C, in spite of the better match of hexadecimal to ASCII and modern byte-addressable architectures. See dusty deck. 2. More restrictively, a feature with past but no present utility. Example: the force-all-caps (LCASE) bits in the V7 and BSD Unix tty driver, designed for use with monocase terminals. (In a perversion of the usual backward-compatibility goal, this functionality has actually been expanded and renamed in some later USG Unix releases as the IUCLC and OLCUC bits.)

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'Fossil' in Nouns Frequency: #2390

How to pronounce Fossil?

How to say Fossil in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of Fossil in Chaldean Numerology is: 7

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of Fossil in Pythagorean Numerology is: 8

Examples of Fossil in a Sentence

  1. Chloe Maxmin:

    We think that Harvard is not a corporation and that profit shouldn't be our main motivator, our main motivator should be about the students. And how can we invest in fossil fuel companies that are threatening our futures? It's an immoral bet against my generation.

  2. Shenhua President Zhang Yuzhuo:

    Among big Chinese companies, when it comes to developing clean and renewable energies, we are not lagging behind at all, we are hoping that in 20 or 30 years, we can bring down the costs of non-fossil fuel energies and at the same time raise the scale of construction, and during this process, allow fossil fuels and non-fossil fuels to be harmonised and provide mutual support.

  3. Joe Biden:

    When it comes to the gas prices, we're going through an incredible transition that is taking place that, God willing, when it's over we'll be stronger and the world will be stronger and less reliant on fossil fuels when this is over.

  4. Nicholas Pyenson:

    It's exciting to know more about the evolution of this enigmatic group, an entire description of a new fossil pygmy sperm whale — that's really valuable.

  5. Raul Grijalva:

    As part of its ongoing campaign to hand over public lands to fossil fuel companies, this administration is rolling back sage grouse protections that many stakeholders created together through a long and deliberative process, it seems clear that Acting Secretary David Bernhardt's clients stand to gain more than anyone else from this revision.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for Fossil

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

Get even more translations for Fossil »


Find a translation for the Fossil definition in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:


Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


"Fossil." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 29 Mar. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/Fossil>.

Discuss these Fossil definitions with the community:


    Are we missing a good definition for Fossil? Don't keep it to yourself...

    Image or illustration of


    Credit »

    Browse Definitions.net

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!


    Are you a words master?

    the highest point (of something)
    • A. apex
    • B. humility
    • C. purse
    • D. intelligence

    Nearby & related entries:

    Alternative searches for Fossil: