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fossil

[fos-uh l] /ˈfɒs əl/
noun
1.
any remains, impression, or trace of a living thing of a former geologic age, as a skeleton, footprint, etc.
2.
a markedly outdated or old-fashioned person or thing.
3.
a linguistic form that is archaic except in certain restricted contexts, as nonce in for the nonce, or that follows a rule or pattern that is no longer productive, as the sentence So be it.
adjective
4.
of the nature of a fossil:
fossil insects.
5.
belonging to a past epoch or discarded system; antiquated:
a fossil approach to economics.
Origin
1555-1565
1555-65; < Latin fossilis dug up (Cf. fodere to dig); replacing earlier fossile < French
Related forms
fossillike, adjective
subfossil, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for fossil
  • These fossil remains of dead cases are fast disappearing from the language.
  • Contrary to what many people believe, fossil fuels are not the remains of dead dinosaurs.
  • The claim is also a new volley in a long-running conflict over who has found the oldest fossil.
  • Discovering an economical and environmentally cleaner alternative to fossil fuel.
  • This, however, is the first example of a two-headed fossil reptile.
  • The orangutan is actually the only great ape that has a fossil record.
  • Skepticism about a fossil cast as a missing link in human ancestry.
  • Our fossil collection is already the world's largest.
  • Archaeopteryx's status as the forerunner of modern birds is crumbling in the face of a new, closely-related fossil.
  • In this lesson, students model geologic principles related to relative dating and the fossil record.
British Dictionary definitions for fossil

fossil

/ˈfɒsəl/
noun
1.
  1. a relic, remnant, or representation of an organism that existed in a past geological age, or of the activity of such an organism, occurring in the form of mineralized bones, shells, etc, as casts, impressions, and moulds, and as frozen perfectly preserved organisms
  2. (as modifier) fossil insects
2.
(informal, derogatory)
  1. a person, idea, thing, etc, that is outdated or incapable of change
  2. (as modifier) fossil politicians
3.
(linguistics) a form once current but now appearing only in one or two special contexts, as for example stead, which is found now only in instead (of) and in phrases like in his stead
4.
(obsolete) any rock or mineral dug out of the earth
Word Origin
C17: from Latin fossilis dug up, from fodere to dig
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
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Word Origin and History for fossil
n.

1610s, "any thing dug up;" 1650s (adj.) "obtained by digging," from French fossile (16c.), from Latin fossilis "dug up," from fossus, past participle of fodere "to dig," from PIE root *bhedh- "to dig, pierce."

Restricted noun sense of "geological remains of a plant or animal" is from 1736; slang meaning "old person" first recorded 1859. Fossil fuel (1835) preserves the earlier, broader sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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fossil in Science
fossil
  (fŏs'əl)   
The remains or imprint of an organism from a previous geologic time. A fossil can consist of the preserved tissues of an organism, as when encased in amber, ice, or pitch, or more commonly of the hardened relic of such tissues, as when organic matter is replaced by dissolved minerals. Hardened fossils are often found in layers of sedimentary rock and along the beds of rivers that flow through them. See also index fossil, microfossil, trace fossil.

fossilize verb
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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fossil in Culture

fossil definition


The evidence in rock of the presence of a plant or an animal from an earlier geological period. Fossils are formed when minerals in groundwater replace materials in bones and tissue, creating a replica in stone of the original organism or of their tracks. The study of fossils is the domain of paleontology. The oldest fossils (of bacteria) are 3.8 billion years old.

Note: The term is used figuratively to refer to a person with very old-fashioned or outmoded viewpoints: “That old fossil thinks that men should wear suits at the theater!”
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for fossil

fossil

noun

An old or very conservative person; alter kocker, fogy: If I got to kiss old fossils to hold this job I'm underpaid (1850s+)


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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fossil in Technology


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.)
3. The FOSSIL (Fido/Opus/Seadog Standard Interface Level) driver specification for serial-port access to replace the brain-dead routines in the IBM PC ROMs. Fossils are used by most MS-DOS BBS software in preference to the "supported" ROM routines, which do not support interrupt-driven operation or setting speeds above 9600; the use of a semistandard FOSSIL library is preferable to the bare metal serial port programming otherwise required. Since the FOSSIL specification allows additional functionality to be hooked in, drivers that use the hook but do not provide serial-port access themselves are named with a modifier, as in "video fossil".
[Jargon File]

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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