\ ˈber-ˈbōnz How to pronounce bare-bones (audio) \

Definition of bare-bones

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: including only what is most basic or necessary a bare-bones email program Skyscrapers of steel hung with curtain walls of glass, these sleek buildings were impressive monuments to bare-bones architectural integrity.— C. A. Mills

bare bones

plural noun

Definition of bare bones (Entry 2 of 2)

: the barest essentials, facts, or elements the bare bones of her life

Examples of bare-bones in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Plural noun The feel here is about as bare bones as a backyard barbecue, and that’s the way this couple likes it after years of running upscale restaurants. Ian Mcnulty,, "Rosalita’s Backyard Tacos opens new Bywater restaurant, still mostly in a backyard," 20 Jan. 2021 For now, even just the bare bones of governance provides a glaring contrast to Trump, as was evidenced on Tuesday, when the Senate began confirmation hearings for five Biden Cabinet nominees. Jess Bidgood,, "Biden puts his faith in the power of a competent government," 19 Jan. 2021 With its chalky white walls and grey floors, a retail space located in a strip mall near downtown Birmingham looks like the bare bones of a dream. al, "‘My whole world went away’: 2020 through the eyes of Alabamians," 31 Dec. 2020 When the acquisition talks stalled, Apple sued Corellium last year, claiming its virtual iPhones, which contain only the bare bones functions necessary for security research, constitute a violation of copyright law. Washington Post, "Apple loses copyright battle against security start-up Corellium," 29 Dec. 2020 One includes no fans at all, just essential personnel, TV crews and a bare bones team of volunteers. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Will fans attend the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in person?," 13 Dec. 2020 The bare bones of the plot are this: Matilda is unwanted and unloved by her anti-intellectual and ethically challenged parents, which the show repeatedly explains in a very lengthy opening sequence. Matthew J. Palm,, "In ‘Matilda,’ a girl-power message both muffled and loud | Review," 21 Nov. 2020 For now, though, the bare bones approach has proved durable enough through the pandemic. Ian Mcnulty,, "By the levee in Luling, Gonzo’s stokes a craving between barbecue and boudin," 17 Nov. 2020 The task has not been easy from the start, as bare bones and outdated information leads to dead ends. Kristina Davis, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Judge urges push to find 545 parents separated from children at the border," 22 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bare-bones.' 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 bare-bones


1868, in the meaning defined above

Plural noun

1647, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for bare-bones

Time Traveler

The first known use of bare-bones was in 1647

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Statistics for bare-bones

Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bare-bones.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of bare-bones

: including only what is most basic or needed

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