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From German Neanderthal, now spelt Neandertal, the name of a valley (German Tal) near Düsseldorf where the first Neanderthal was discovered in 1856. The valley had been renamed to Neandershöhle ‎(Neander’s Hollow) in the early 19th century, and further to Neanderthal in 1850, in honour of the German Calvinist theologian and hymn writer Joachim Neander (1650–1680). Before, the valley was known as Düsselthal (from the river Düssel), das Gesteins (“The Rocks”), and Hundsklipp (“Dog Cliff”).

The name of Joachim Neander is based on the Ancient Greek translation of his original surname Neumann ‎(New Man). For this reason Homo neanderthalensis is sometimes called New man in English.


  • (UK) enPR: nē.ănʹdə.täl', IPA(key): /niːˈæn.dəˌtɑːl/,[1]
  • (US) enPR: nē.ănʹdər.thäl', IPA(key): /niːˈæn.dɚˌθɑːl/; enPR: nē.ănʹdər.täl', IPA(key): /niːˈæn.dɚˌtɑːl/,[1], IPA(key): /niˈændəɹθəl/
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Neanderthal ‎(not comparable)

  1. Of or pertaining to Homines neanderthalenses.
    The capacity of the Neanderthal skull was 10% larger than that of modern humans.
  2. Old-fashioned, opposed to change (in allusion to Homo neanderthalensis).
  3. Of or pertaining to the Neander Valley in Germany.

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Neanderthal ‎(plural Neanderthals)

  1. A specimen of the now extinct species Homo neanderthalensis.
  2. (pejorative) A primitive person.

Alternative forms[edit]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Neanderthal” listed in the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (Cambridge University Press 2009)