1610s, "any thing dug up;" 1650s (adj.) "obtained by digging" (of coal, salt, etc.), 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 (the adjective in the sense "pertaining to fossils" is from 1660s); slang meaning "old person" first recorded 1859. Fossil fuel (1833) preserves the earlier, broader sense.
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