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

The cause of death initially was reported as a rare muscle disease by the facility after a necropsy (autopsy) by the facility’s veterinarians was completed. Bayan Wang, azcentral, "Report: Alia the bottlenose dolphin died of a bacterial infection," 29 June 2018 Argueta's body was transported to the Galveston County Medical Examiner's Office pending an autopsy. Nick Powell, Houston Chronicle, "Teen suspect was running from Galveston police after traffic stop when shot, sheriff says," 26 June 2018 The department released hours of body camera footage, and an autopsy was reviewed by four forensic pathologists before its release less than two months after the shooting. Nicole Santa Cruz,, "In the aftermath of a police shooting, families feel left in the dark with more questions than answers," 24 June 2018 At autopsy, the medical examiner discovered the assailant had left pubic hairs behind. Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A killer left DNA evidence behind. But Milwaukee police destroyed it.," 22 June 2018 But rapid autopsies also present some logistical challenges. Talia Richman,, "Johns Hopkins among institutions embracing 'rapid autopsies'," 20 June 2018 State Police found Chicklis’ body near the side of the road, officials said An autopsy was performed, but the specific cause of Chicklis’ death is being withheld, pending further investigation, according to the NH attorney general’s office. Alejandro Serrano,, "Missing Westminster man found dead in NH," 14 July 2018 In 2005, Emmett’s body was exhumed by the FBI and an autopsy was performed. Deneen L. Brown, Washington Post, "Emmett Till’s mother opened his casket and sparked the civil rights movement," 12 July 2018 Stutsman County Sheriff Chad Kaiser told CBS Fargo affiliate KXJB an autopsy will be performed to determine how long the baby had been dead. CBS News, "Police say they found body of baby whose mother said she couldn't remember last 4 days," 7 July 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

6 Nov 2018

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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