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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a markedly outdated or old-fashioned person or thing.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 from the web for fossils
  • As the waters receded, they left behind a great crescent of chalk, rich with minerals and sea fossils.
  • But two linguistic fossils remain that remind us of the old way.
  • He has piles of fossils that he hasn't had time to study.
  • Journalists serve the public with their daily reports about our studies of flu vaccines and voting patterns and hominid fossils.
  • Also a number of fossils, and imperfect minerals, which you have not.
  • But researchers who study human fossils and our nonhuman ancestors have a different perspective.
  • Who would ever have thought three great agencies have run out of money, and are now being staffed by old dormant fossils brains.
  • The delicate remains of birds do not survive well in the form of fossils, so the ancestry of many species is obscure.
  • It is a familiar tale of photosynthesis, forests, farming and fossils fuels.
  • With the discovery of more fossils, that has become the accepted number.
British Dictionary definitions for fossils

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 a person, idea, thing, etc, that is outdated or incapable of change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 fossils

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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fossils 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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fossils 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 fossils

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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10
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