Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A remnant or trace of an organism of a past geologic age, such as a skeleton or leaf imprint, embedded and preserved in the earth's crust.
  • noun One that is outdated or antiquated.
  • noun A word or morpheme that is used only in certain restricted contexts, as kempt in unkempt, but is otherwise obsolete.
  • noun An archaic syntactic rule or pattern used only in idioms, as so be it.
  • adjective Characteristic of or having the nature of a fossil.
  • adjective Being or similar to a fossil.
  • adjective Belonging to the past; antiquated.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Dug out of the earth: as, fossil coal; fossil salt.
  • Pertaining to or resembling fossils; preserved by natural inhumation, as an organic body, in form and sometimes in texture: as, fossil shells, bones, or wood. See II., 2.
  • Figuratively, antiquated; superannuated; outgrown; belonging to a past epoch or discarded system: as, a fossil statesman; fossil manners or literature.
  • noun Any rock or mineral, or any mineral substance, whether of an organic or of an inorganic nature, dug out of the ground.
  • noun Specifically, in later geological and mineralogical use, anything which has been buried beneath the surface of the earth by natural causes or geological agencies, and which bears in its form or chemical composition the evidence that it is of organic origin.
  • noun Hence, figuratively, one who or something which is antiquated, or has fallen behind the progress of ideas; a person or thing of superannuated or discarded character or quality: as, a curious literary fossil.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete A substance dug from the earth.
  • noun (Paleon.) The remains of an animal or plant found in stratified rocks. Most fossils belong to extinct species, but many of the later ones belong to species still living.
  • noun colloq. A person whose views and opinions are extremely antiquated; one whose sympathies are with a former time rather than with the present.
  • adjective Dug out of the earth
  • adjective preserved from a previous geological age; from deep wells; -- usually implying that the object so described has had its substance modified by long residence in the ground, but also used (as with fossil water) in cases where chemical composition is not altered.
  • adjective (Paleon.) Like or pertaining to fossils; contained in rocks, whether petrified or not.
  • adjective a resinous substance, first found in the blue clay at Highgate, near London, and apparently a vegetable resin, partly changed by remaining in the earth.
  • adjective varieties of amianthus.
  • adjective a soft carbonate of lime.
  • adjective fossiliferous red hematite.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The mineralized remains of an animal or plant.
  • noun paleontology Any preserved evidence of ancient life, including shells, imprints, burrows, coprolites, and organically-produced chemicals.
  • noun linguistics A fossilized term.
  • noun figuratively Anything extremely old, extinct, or outdated.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the remains (or an impression) of a plant or animal that existed in a past geological age and that has been excavated from the soil
  • noun someone whose style is out of fashion
  • adjective characteristic of a fossil

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[From Latin fossilis, dug up, from fossus, past participle of fodere, to dig.]

Examples

  • Corallines much resemble fossil or petrified wood; and we recollect to have received from the landlady of an inn at Portsmouth a small branch of _fossil wood_, which she asserted to be _coral_, and

    The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 10, No. 282, November 10, 1827

  • Only the woefully ignorant think that the term fossil is restricted to bones and other body parts that have become encased in stone.

    Think Progress

  • The term fossil refers to any preserved remains or imprint of a living organism (usually ancient), such as a bone, shell, footprint, or leaf impression.

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  • Our oxygen does derive from CO2, however, with the remaining carbon mostly spread about in little bits of graphite in the crust, plus a few smidges in higher concentrations, which we call fossil fuels.

    Author's Note and Some Introduction to Dark Underbelly

  • Our oxygen does derive from CO2, however, with the remaining carbon mostly spread about in little bits of graphite in the crust, plus a few smidges in higher concentrations, which we call fossil fuels.

    Archive 2007-09-01

  • If we want to hold temperatures below a 2°C rise, the key factor is not how much we burn in fossil fuels each year, but the cumulative emissions over centuries (because once we release carbon molecules from being buried under the ground, they tend to stay in the carbon cycle for centuries).

    One Trillion Tonnes of Carbon | Serendipity

  • If we want to hold temperatures below a 2°C rise, the key factor is not how much we burn in fossil fuels each year, but the cumulative emissions over centuries (because once we release carbon molecules from being buried under the ground, they tend to stay in the carbon cycle for centuries).

    2009 November | Serendipity

  • Shows up everywhere: e.g. leaf damage in fossil leaves at PETM.

    2009 December 17 | Serendipity

  • A newly unearthed fossil is the missing link between land and marine mammals: Standing two to three feet tall on legs adapted to wade through shallow water, the 48-million-year-old Indohyus is the missing link between modern-day whales and their land-lubbing ancestors.

    Science Is Nifty

  • And it shows up everywhere: e.g. leaf damage in fossil leaves at PETM.

    AGU Day 2: The role of CO2 in the earth’s history | Serendipity

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