November 30, 2012
fossil (noun)
\FAH-sul\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : a trace or print or the remains of a plant or animal of a past age preserved in earth or rock2 a : a person whose ideas are out-of-date b : something that has become fixed and cannot be changed
How do you use it?
After two years of college, Cameron has decided to major in paleontology, the science that deals with the study of fossils.
Are you a word wiz?

The Latin ancestor of the word "fossil" refers to a particular action. What do you think that action is?

If you dig down deep enough, you come up with B as the right answer. The noun "fossil" can be traced to "fossilis," the Latin adjective that means "obtained by digging," and ultimately to "fodere," the verb meaning "to dig." This makes sense since most fossils are found by digging. If we dig further into the history of "fossil," we discover that it first came into English around 1600 as an adjective meaning "found buried in the earth," and later acquired the more specific meaning of "preserved from a past geologic age," as in "fossil plants." The noun "fossil" made its appearance a little over 100 years after the adjective.
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