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[pree-his-tuh-ree, -his-tree] /priˈhɪs tə ri, -ˈhɪs tri/
noun, plural prehistories.
human history in the period before recorded events, known mainly through archaeological discoveries, study, research, etc.; history of prehistoric humans.
a history of the events or incidents leading to a crisis, situation, or the like.
1870-75; pre- + history
Related forms
[pree-hi-stawr-ee-uh n, -stohr-] /ˌpri hɪˈstɔr i ən, -ˈstoʊr-/ (Show IPA),
noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for prehistory
  • In this lesson, students create mock fossil records based on current scientific theories about prehistory.
  • Made of wood and rawhide, these traditional snowshoes go back to prehistory.
  • Until recently, there was little to be said about the prehistory of pandas.
  • But what the skull means to prehistory is still unknown.
  • The precise nature of the first religions is lost in prehistory.
  • Much of our knowledge of prehistory comes from artifacts interred at ritual burial sites.
  • If reporters write the first draft of history, explorers and archaeologists produce the first sketches of prehistory.
  • The discovery also offers clues to the early prehistory of birds.
  • Inequality has been a part of humanity since prehistory.
  • Acceptance of the supernatural conveyed a great advantage throughout prehistory, when the brain was evolving.
British Dictionary definitions for prehistory


noun (pl) -ries
the prehistoric period
the study of this period, relying entirely on archaeological evidence
Derived Forms
prehistorian (ˌpriːhɪˈstɔːrɪən) 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 prehistory

1869, perhaps a back-formation from prehistoric. Related: Prehistorian.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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