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[fos-uh l] /ˈfɒs əl/

any remains, impression, or trace of a living thing of a former geologic age, as a skeleton, footprint, etc.
a markedly outdated or old-fashioned person or thing.
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.
of the nature of a fossil:
fossil insects.
belonging to a past epoch or discarded system; antiquated:
a fossil approach to economics.

(informal, derogatory)

(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
(obsolete) any rock or mineral dug out of the earth

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.
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 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!”


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


Read Also:

  • Fossil-turquoise

    noun 1. . noun 1. fossil bone or ivory that has been colored naturally or artificially so as to resemble turquoise. noun 1. fossilized bone or tooth stained blue with iron phosphate and used as a gemstone Also called odontolite

  • Fossor

    [fos-er] /ˈfɒs ər/ noun 1. (in the early Christian church) a minor clergyman employed as a gravedigger.

  • Fossorial

    [fo-sawr-ee-uh l, -sohr-] /fɒˈsɔr i əl, -ˈsoʊr-/ adjective, Zoology. 1. digging or burrowing. 2. adapted for digging, as the hands, feet, and bone structure of moles, armadillos, and aardvarks. /fɒˈsɔːrɪəl/ adjective 1. (of the forelimbs and skeleton of burrowing animals) adapted for digging 2. (of burrowing animals, such as the mole and armadillo) having limbs […]

  • Fossula

    [fos-yuh-luh] /ˈfɒs yə lə/ noun, plural fossulae [fos-yuh-lee] /ˈfɒs yəˌli/ (Show IPA). Anatomy. 1. a small fossa. fossula fos·su·la (fŏs’ə-lə, -yə-lə) n. pl. fos·su·lae (-lē’) A small fossa.

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