au·​top·​sy | \ ˈȯ-ˌtäp-sē , 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

An autopsy will be conducted to determine if Hairston had CTE. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Jason Hairston’s wife says ex-NFL player struggled with CTE symptoms weeks before suicide," 9 Sep. 2018 An autopsy will be conducted to determine a cause of death, police said. John Wisely, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit police investigating death of 7-month-old boy," 1 July 2018 William Jiménez, an official at the morgue where Alban’s body was taken, alleges in an online video that the autopsy found water in his lungs. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "Cuba Holds the Keys to Venezuela," 14 Oct. 2018 An autopsy found that Navarra died of blunt force trauma, police said. Benjamin Brown, Fox News, "Stepdad, 90, held in connection with woman's blunt force trauma death, police say," 28 Sep. 2018 An autopsy found high levels of an benzalkonium chloride, a disinfectant, in his body, the Japanese news outlet reported. Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY, "Nurse poisoned at least 20 ailing patients so they would die during someone else's watch," 10 July 2018 One struck the right side of his face, another hit his right elbow and a third, which was the fatal wound, hit his back and then struck a lung and his heart, an autopsy found. Matthew Haag, New York Times, "Officer Who Shot Antwon Rose Is Charged With Criminal Homicide," 27 June 2018 An autopsy found wounds to her neck, back, upper chest and face. CBS News, "Popular DJ accused of killing elementary school teacher in 1992," 26 June 2018 He was hit in the thigh, finger, wrist, shoulder, clavicle and twice in the chest and twice in the abdomen, an autopsy found. Maxine Bernstein,, "Man who burst into homeless shelter said: 'I'm gonna kill everyone in here'," 25 May 2018

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

13 Feb 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 , ˈȯt-əp- \
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- \
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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Comments on autopsy

What made you want to look up autopsy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express emotion in a dramatic way

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