bi·​op·​sy | \ˈbī-ˌäp-sē \
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

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 Five months later, Collins, now 44, has been back to Philadelphia multiple times for biopsies to look for any signs of rejection. Tom Avril,, "He had 2 heart transplants. At 43, as a new dad, he needed a third," 13 June 2018 Finally, if these tests come back normal, your dermatologist may suggest a scalp biopsy of a couple of two-millimeter sections taken from your scalp under local anesthesia ($400 and up). Jessica Chia, Allure, "The Best Hair Loss Treatments for Every Budget," 15 Oct. 2018 After six months, researchers will repeat a biopsy to evaluate whether the training lowers the expression of genes in the normal breast tissue that are known to promote breast cancer. Laura Landro, WSJ, "A New Push to Lower Your Risk for Breast Cancer," 3 Oct. 2018 After the procedure, biopsies of my leftover tissue showed no signs of malignant cells. Lambeth Hochwald, Glamour, "I Got a Mastectomy…Twice," 27 Sep. 2018 This isn't good, because even if the results show nothing scary, the biopsy itself meant immediately and permanently changing the appearance of my beloved mole. Marci Robin, Allure, "Beauty Mark Makeover: Why I Chose to Reduce the Size of My Mole Instead of Getting It Removed," 13 July 2018 There are actually several types of breast biopsies. Korin Miller, SELF, "8 Helpful Things to Know About Getting a Breast Biopsy Before It Happens," 27 June 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

8 Dec 2018

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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 \
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

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


living or existing for a long time

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