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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 The doctors could tell something was wrong and did a biopsy, according to The Sun. Gabrielle Sorto, Teen Vogue, "This Woman Had Her Thumb Amputated Because of Cancer Reportedly Caused By Biting Her Nails," 7 Sep. 2018 Their office also offers digital mammography, bone density testing, breast MRI, breast biopsy and ultrasound services. Peggy Siegal, Town & Country, "This Underground Plastic Surgery Guide Is the Talk of the Upper East Side," 20 Nov. 2017 Pneumo thorax, which can easily degenerate to death, is a common side effect of lung biopsies. Jonathan Kolatch, WSJ, "Keeping Dad Alive From 7,000 Miles Away," 23 Dec. 2018 Grady was recovering from the biopsy, which required a small piece of his skull to be removed and reattached, leaving a large horseshoe shaped incision from the top of his forehead to just past his right ear. Beth Kassab,, "Brain cancer: Words no one wants to hear," 23 May 2018 During this procedure a small tissue sample may be taken for a biopsy. Jennifer Gerson, Marie Claire, "Health & Fitness," 1 Oct. 2018 John will have to have another bone marrow biopsy this month to see if the cancer is still present or has grown. Terry Tang, The Seattle Times, "Stem cell transplant cements Arizona men’s father-son bond," 10 Sep. 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.

See More

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)

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about biopsy

Statistics for biopsy

Last Updated

17 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for biopsy

The first known use of biopsy was in 1887

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up biopsy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a shady place in a garden or forest

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!