Alternative formsEdit


From pre- (before) +‎ history, first attested in the Foreign Quarterly Review in 1836,[1] after the model of prehistoric, from French préhistorique.


prehistory (countable and uncountable, plural prehistories)

  1. (properly) History before written records, inclusive of both
    1. The time before written records in any area of the world; the events and conditions of those times.
    2. The study of those times.
  2. (humorous, hyperbolic) Any past time (even recent) treated as such a distant, unknowable era.
    • 1984, Shiva Naipaul, Beyond the Dragon's Mouth, p. 25:
      I was a town boy through and through. The country belonged to a vague pre-history.
  3. (often as pre-history) The history leading up to some event, condition, etc.
    • 1931 July 25, Time & Tide, p. 893:
      Psychologists... are mostly bad historians, inventing—as Freud has done—their pre-history to suit their theories.



Related termsEdit



  1. ^ Eddy, Matthew Daniel, “The Prehistoric Mind as a Historical Artefact”, in Notes and Records of the Royal Society[1], volume 65, 2011, DOI:10.1098/rsnr.2010.0097, pages 1–8