au·​top·​sy | \ ˈȯ-ˌtäp-sē How to pronounce autopsy (audio) , ˈȯ-təp-\
plural autopsies

Definition of autopsy

1 : an examination of a body after death to determine the cause of death or the character and extent of changes produced by disease

called also necropsy

2 : a critical examination, evaluation, or assessment of someone or something past

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Other Words from autopsy

autopsy transitive verb

Examples of autopsy in a Sentence

The coroner performed an autopsy on the murder victim's body. the autopsy revealed an advanced stage of cancer

Recent Examples on the Web

The still-unidentified female died of multiple injuries from an assault, the Cook County medical examiner’s office determined after a Friday autopsy. Chicago Tribune,, "Homicide ruled in death of woman found on riverbed in Goose Island," 7 July 2018 Police said the death investigation is ongoing, pending results from the autopsy. Kaitlyn Schwers, kansascity, "3-year-old accidentally shot himself in the head after finding gun in family car, Missouri cops say," 27 June 2018 Her autopsy was done Friday, but the cause of death will not be released until the tests on samples taken during the examination are finished, authorities said. Jeffrey Collins, The Seattle Times, "Prosecutor: Charges not certain in 5th grader’s fight death," 29 Mar. 2019 The party already worried too much about border security—that’s the lesson the elites took from Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012, according to their famous autopsy. Peggy Noonan, WSJ, "Republicans Need to Save Capitalism," 14 Feb. 2019 In Forsyth Park, autopsies were performed in an underground morgue, connected by an underground tunnel to the former Candler Hospital. Condé Nast Traveler, "8 Most Haunted Cities In America and Why You Should Visit," 18 Oct. 2018 Coffey had a blood alcohol level of .447 during his autopsy, according to a medical examiner. Juan Ortega,, "Nine face hazing charges in death of FSU fraternity pledge from South Florida," 17 Jan. 2018 An autopsy found that Bradford was shot three times: once in back of the head, once in his neck and once in his lower back, according to the report. Kim Chandler, The Seattle Times, "Officer won’t face charges in Alabama mall shooting," 5 Feb. 2019 The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was assisting and its medical examiner’s office said an autopsy would be conducted Monday, a day before the Yellow Jackets are scheduled to hold their first practice of spring. Paul Newberry, The Seattle Times, "Georgia Tech announces death of DT Brandon Adams," 24 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'autopsy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of autopsy

1678, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for autopsy

Greek autopsia act of seeing with one's own eyes, from aut- + opsis sight, appearance — more at optic

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Statistics for autopsy

Last Updated

5 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for autopsy

The first known use of autopsy was in 1678

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More Definitions for autopsy



English Language Learners Definition of autopsy

: an examination of a dead body to find out the cause of death


au·​top·​sy | \ ˈȯ-ˌtäp-sē How to pronounce autopsy (audio) , ˈȯt-əp- How to pronounce autopsy (audio) \
plural autopsies

Medical Definition of autopsy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an examination of the body after death usually with such dissection as will expose the vital organs for determining the cause of death or the character and extent of changes produced by disease

called also necropsy, postmortem, postmortem examination


transitive verb
autopsied; autopsying

Medical Definition of autopsy (Entry 2 of 2)

: to perform an autopsy on


au·​top·​sy | \ ˈȯ-ˌtäp-sē, -təp- How to pronounce autopsy (audio) \
plural autopsies

Legal Definition of autopsy

: an examination of a body after death usually involving dissection especially to determine the cause of death

called also post mortem, post mortem examination

Other Words from autopsy

autopsy transitive verb

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