bi·​op·​sy | \ ˈbī-ˌäp-sē How to pronounce biopsy (audio) \
plural biopsies

Definition of biopsy

: the removal and examination of tissue, cells, or fluids from the living body

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Other Words from biopsy

biopsy transitive verb

Did You Know?

Matter examined in a biopsy is always taken from a living organism. Most biopsies are done by using a needle to extract tissue or fluid, but some may instead require cutting, and others may amount to nothing more than swabbing the inside of the patient's cheek. Biopsies are best known as a means of detecting cancer, but a doctor may also take a biopsy of heart muscle to investigate suspected heart disease, for example, or perform a biopsy on a pregnant woman to test for disorders in the fetus.

Examples of biopsy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Over the course of two recent days, Dahle treated patients with hyperthyroidism, migraines, diabetes, swollen lymph nodes, chronic ear infections, knee pain and constant nausea, and performed a skin biopsy to test for cancer. Elizabeth Aguilera, The Mercury News, "Paging more doctors: California’s worsening physician shortage," 20 Aug. 2019 Boyle’s lawyers told the local newspaper that the mistake occurred because a biopsy sample had been incorrectly recorded. Joelle Goldstein,, "Woman, 25, Learns She Was Misdiagnosed with Breast Cancer after Undergoing Double Mastectomy," 20 July 2019 Early detection can also avoid unnecessary stress, biopsies and multiple doctors' visits. Stephanie Innes, azcentral, "Cases of valley fever in Arizona are up in 2019. Here's what you need to know," 10 July 2019 At that time, staff conducted a liver biopsy and consulted with marine mammal experts around the country to treat her. Christine Condon,, "Dolphin dies at the National Aquarium after months-long illness," 8 July 2019 The court said in a statement that a biopsy performed July 31 confirmed a localized malignant tumor. Jessica Gresko, The Denver Post, "Ginsburg treated for tumor on pancreas, Supreme Court says," 23 Aug. 2019 This time, Ginsburg underwent a specific course of treatment—stereotactic ablative radiation therapy—which began on August 5, just days after a biopsy confirmed her pancreatic tumor was malignant. Christina Oehler,, "Ruth Bader Ginsburg Was Just Treated for A Malignant Tumor on Her Pancreas, Says Supreme Court," 23 Aug. 2019 Goiters are typically diagnosed via thyroid function tests, per the ATA, and any subsequent tests—like a thyroid ultrasound or a biopsy of the thyroid—are dependent on that. Amber Brenza,, "Denise Richards Says Fans Discovered Her Enlarged Thyroid After 'RHOBH' Reunion Show," 5 Aug. 2019 Then came more imaging, then a biopsy, then a diagnosis of breast cancer. Megan Friedman, Country Living, "Julie Chrisley of 'Chrisley Knows Best' Explains How Husband Todd Saved Her From Cancer," 2 Oct. 2018

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

1887, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for biopsy

International Scientific Vocabulary bi- entry 2 + -opsy (as in autopsy)

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Statistics for biopsy

Last Updated

15 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for biopsy

The first known use of biopsy was in 1887

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English Language Learners Definition of biopsy

medical : the removal of tissue, cells, or fluids from someone's body in order to check for illness


bi·​op·​sy | \ ˈbī-ˌäp-sē How to pronounce biopsy (audio) \
plural biopsies

Medical Definition of biopsy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the removal and examination of tissue, cells, or fluids from the living body
biopsied; biopsying

Medical Definition of biopsy (Entry 2 of 2)

: to perform a biopsy on the intestinal polyps were removed and biopsied

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More from Merriam-Webster on biopsy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with biopsy

Spanish Central: Translation of biopsy

Nglish: Translation of biopsy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of biopsy for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about biopsy

Comments on biopsy

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to spread over or through

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