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

Doctors test tumors for all three of these receptors when people undergo breast biopsies, according to the Mayo Clinic. Mary Claire Lagroue, SELF, "How Is Triple Negative Breast Cancer Different from Other Diagnoses?," 31 May 2019 In medical terms, a cervical biopsy sounds sterile and unassuming: a doctor takes a tissue sample from your cervix to test for cancerous cells. Rachael Brennan, Glamour, "I Wish I’d Gotten the HPV Vaccine," 14 May 2019 To diagnose alopecia, your doctor may order blood tests or skin biopsies in order to rule out other underlying medical conditions that may be causing your hair loss, such as another autoimmune disorder. Amy Capetta, SELF, "This Week's 'ANTM' Featured a Model Tearfully Embracing Her Alopecia," 26 Jan. 2018 Researchers will track every woman's results including samples from biopsies plus genetic and other tests, as well as how any cancer patients fare. Lauran Neergaard, Fox News, "A better mammogram? Huge study putting 3-D scans to the test," 7 Dec. 2017 What is more, doctors currently must perform a liver biopsy to give a diagnosis. Charley Grant, WSJ, "A Big, Fatty Opportunity for Big Pharma," 18 Jan. 2019 However, the biopsy procedure can be difficult for a patient, especially if the tumor is in the bone. Christina Galbraith, Newsweek, "Personalized Cancer Treatment, Driven by a Blood Filter the Size of a CD," 25 Apr. 2015 Less than two weeks after her biopsy, Tazmin's condition progressed — and she was diagnosed with leukemia, her mother said. Lindsey Bever, Washington Post, "A mother Googled her toddler’s symptoms — and believes it may have saved the child’s life," 24 Feb. 2018 What if a doctor could do a biopsy for a suspected cancer without a blade of any sort? Scientific American, "Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2017," 8 Dec. 2017

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

9 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for biopsy

The first known use of biopsy was in 1887

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More Definitions for biopsy



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

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to take the place or position of

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