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[fos-uh-lahyz] /ˈfɒs əˌlaɪz/
verb (used with object), fossilized, fossilizing.
Geology. to convert into a fossil; replace organic with mineral substances in the remains of an organism.
to change as if into mere lifeless remains or traces of the past.
to make rigidly antiquated:
Time has fossilized such methods.
verb (used without object), fossilized, fossilizing.
to become a fossil or fossillike:
The plant fossilized in comparatively recent geologic time.
Linguistics. (of a linguistic form, feature, rule, etc.) to become permanently established in the interlanguage of a second-language learner in a form that is deviant from the target-language norm and that continues to appear in performance regardless of further exposure to the target language.
Also, especially British, fossilise.
Origin of fossilize
1785-95; fossil + -ize
Related forms
fossilizable, adjective
fossilization, noun
semifossilized, adjective
unfossilized, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for fossilize
Historical Examples
  • In these fringing woods are some curious dripping crags which fossilize every article submitted to their influence.

  • It took twenty million years to make the fish and to fossilize him so we'd have the evidence later.

  • And he was able to guess, although he could not move his limbs to test it, that he was in the form in which he was to fossilize.

    It Never Can Happen Again William De Morgan
  • Cartilaginous jaws would not fossilize, and the Ostracoderms may have possessed them.

    The Origin of Vertebrates Walter Holbrook Gaskell
  • When you stiffen up a way of life and try to fossilize it so it'll stay that way forever, then you find you've lost it.

    The Syndic C.M. Kornbluth
British Dictionary definitions for fossilize


to convert or be converted into a fossil
to become or cause to become antiquated or inflexible
Derived Forms
fossilizable, fossilisable, adjective
fossilization, fossilisation, 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
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Word Origin and History for fossilize

1794, from fossil + -ize. Figurative use from 1856. Related: Fossilized; fossilizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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fossilize in Science
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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