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 This later led to hospital visits for scans and tests, including a needle biopsy (ouch), all of them inconclusive. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "The Art of Dying," 16 Dec. 2019 Thinking the spot on his ear could be basal cell again, a biopsy was taken. Hannah Kirby, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Waukesha County Board Chairman Paul Decker beats cancer a third time — a second time just this year," 5 Nov. 2019 Kuzma was first diagnosed laryngeal cancer in June 2017, according to, after chronic throat pain and hoarseness led to a biopsy, which found growths on her vocal cords to be cancerous. Korin Miller,, "This 32-Year-Old Teacher Wrote Her Own Obituary Before Dying of Cancer—and Now It's Going Viral," 8 Oct. 2019 After the procedure, O’Reilly experienced multiple medical problems — endometriosis, fibroid breast tumors requiring biopsies, painful menstrual cycles. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Paying women to donate their eggs for research is still a terrible idea," 23 Aug. 2019 His dentist referred him to an ear, nose, and throat doctor, who did a biopsy, which was inconclusive. Michele Cohen Marill, WIRED, "Why a Promising, Potent Cancer Therapy Isn't Used in the US," 21 Aug. 2019 But there hadn’t been completed biopsies of patients’ lungs. Laura Hancock, cleveland, "New Cleveland Clinic lung research questions vitamin E’s role in vaping illnesses," 22 Oct. 2019 The meat begins with a biopsy the size of a sesame seed. Gene Weingarten, Washington Post, "Gene Weingarten: Taking ‘cultivated meat’ to another level?," 3 Oct. 2019 In March 2016, Levy was intoxicated when he was called to the radiology department to assist with a biopsy. Anchorage Daily News, "How Veterans Affairs failed to stop a pathologist who misdiagnosed 3,000 cases," 30 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for biopsy

Time Traveler

The first known use of biopsy was in 1887

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Statistics for biopsy

Last Updated

6 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Biopsy.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for biopsy


How to pronounce biopsy (audio)

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 insert between existing elements

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