noun, often attributive
\ ˈbōn \

Definition of bone 

(Entry 1 of 4)

1a : one of the hard parts of the skeleton of a vertebrate

b : any of various hard animal substances or structures (such as baleen or ivory) akin to or resembling bone

c : the hard largely calcareous connective tissue of which the adult skeleton of most vertebrates is chiefly composed

2a : essence, core cut costs to the bone a liberal to the bone

b : the most deeply ingrained part : heart usually used in plural knew in his bones that it was wrong

3 bones plural

a(1) : skeleton

(2) : body rested my weary bones

(3) : corpse inter a person's bones

b : the basic design or framework (as of a play or novel)

4 : matter, subject a bone of contention

5a bones plural : thin bars of bone, ivory, or wood held in pairs between the fingers and used to produce musical rhythms

b : a strip of material (such as whalebone or steel) used to stiffen a garment (such as a corset)

c bones plural : dice

6 : something that is designed to placate : sop

7 : a light beige

8 : inclination sense 1b hadn't a political bone in his body —John Hersey

9 slang : dollar

bone to pick

: a matter to argue or complain about


boned; boning

Definition of bone (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : to remove the bones from bone a fish

2 : to provide (a garment) with stays

3 : to rub (something, such as a boot or a baseball bat) with something hard (such as a piece of bone) in order to smooth the surface

4 US, vulgar slang : to have sexual intercourse with (someone)

intransitive verb

: to study hard : grind bone through medical school



Definition of bone (Entry 3 of 4)

: extremely, very bone tired also : totally


biographical name
\ ˈbōn \

Definition of Bone (Entry 4 of 4)

Sir Muirhead 1876–1953 Scottish etcher and painter

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Other words from bone


boned \ˈbōnd \ adjective
boneless \ˈbōn-ləs \ adjective

Examples of bone in a Sentence


He broke a bone in his left arm. The leg bone is connected to the knee bone. We are all made of flesh and bone. The handle of the knife is made from bone.


The air is bone dry. grew up in a backwoods area that was bone poor
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Notable: Before ordering that bone-in filet, however, please note that the only time in this World Cup that Croatia led at half was in its opener against Nigeria on June 16. Ed Barkowitz,, "Atlantic City bookies offer odds and props for Sunday's World Cup final between France and Croatia," 13 July 2018 And finding whale bones in the archaeological record is harder than one might assume. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Romans May Have Hunted Whales to Extinction in Their Home Waters," 11 July 2018 Uber, for example, has made no bones about its intent to replace its drivers with robots. Antonio García Martínez, WIRED, "How Silicon Valley Fuels an Informal Caste System," 9 July 2018 And that’s in keeping with his latest gig: a small part in Sorry to Bother You, a satirical social comedy with a political bone to pick. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "“So that’s what gaslighting feels like”: Terry Crews on #MeToo and Sorry to Bother You," 29 June 2018 Options include boneless sliced chicken or beef, bone-in Korean-style (flanken) short ribs, or a mix of all three. Larry Olmsted, USA TODAY, "Where to try Hawaiian plate lunches on the mainland," 28 June 2018 He was treated for serious injuries, including a fractured orbital bone. Tara Subramaniam, ajc, "Woman accused of assaulting, severely injuring her ex-boyfriend," 21 June 2018 And now, people online have a bone to pick with Kylie's latest makeup release, the Sorta Sweet Palette, which some fans believe is uncomfortably similar to Anastasia Beverly Hills's Soft Glam eyeshadow palette. Leah Prinzivalli, Teen Vogue, "Kylie Jenner Is Being Accused of Copying an Anastasia Beverly Hills Eyeshadow Palette," 20 June 2018 Luke Hunter, chief conservation officer at the global wild cat conservation organization Panthera, says he’s never seen a leopard comb through meat with a bone. National Geographic, "Leopard Plays With Prey’s Own Bones," 19 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

From President Fitzgerald Grant III and Olivia Pope boning all over the West Wing (before their postcoital conversations about jam and Vermont) to some hot spy-on-spy action, here are a few of the best hookup scenes from Scandal. Lisa Ryan, The Cut, "The Best (and Hottest) Hookup Scenes From Scandal," 19 Apr. 2018 Without missing a beat, Chris Quinones, Giselle Velez and Angeline Torres quickly learned the technique for boning chicken and kept us right on schedule for our Chicken Tikka Masala. Nancy Smith & Peter Landry,, "Spices take the flavor of Chicken Tikka Masala 'to another world'," 19 Apr. 2018 For boning fish, the best tool is a pair of fish tweezers (Kotobuki Japanese Fish Bone Tweezers, $5.50; Sunset, "Thai-Inspired Kokoda," 22 Jan. 2018 And those who hunt in areas where the disease is known to occur should bone out their meat and not consume the brain, spine or lymph nodes, experts said. Jim Robbins, New York Times, "States Confront the Spread of a Deadly Disease in Deer," 8 Jan. 2018

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for bone


Middle English bon, going back to Old English bān, going back to Germanic *baina- (whence also Old Frisian & Old Saxon bēn "bone," Old High German bein "bone, leg," Old Norse bein "bone" and probably beinn "straight"), perhaps going back to Indo-European *bhoi̯H-n-o-, a derivative of a verbal base *bhei̯H- "strike, hew," whence, with varying suffixation, Old Irish benaid "(s/he) hews, cuts," robíth "(it) has been struck," Middle Breton benaff "(I) cut," Latin perfinēs (glossed by the Roman grammarian Festus as perfringās "you should break") and probably Old Church Slavic bijǫ, biti "to hit"

Note: Germanic lacks an outcome of Indo-European *h2ost- "bone" (see osteo-), and it has been theorized that the etymon was replaced by *bhoi̯H-n-o-, used attributively in the sense "broken off," first with Germanic *ast-a- "branch" and then, with homonymous *ast- "bone" (the expected outcome of *h2ost-); the meaning "straight" seen in Old Norse beinn may have been an intermediary stage.


derivative of bone entry 1

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Dictionary Entries near bone

bond timber






Bone Age

Statistics for bone

Last Updated

17 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for bone

The first known use of bone was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for bone



English Language Learners Definition of bone

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: any one of the hard pieces that form the frame (called a skeleton) inside a person's or animal's body

: the hard material that bones are made of



English Language Learners Definition of bone (Entry 2 of 3)

: to remove the bones from (a fish or meat)



English Language Learners Definition of bone (Entry 3 of 3)

: extremely or very : completely or totally


\ ˈbōn \

Kids Definition of bone

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : any of the hard pieces that form the skeleton of most animals the bones of the arm

2 : the hard material of which the skeleton of most animals is formed a piece of bone

Other words from bone

boneless \-ləs \ adjective


boned; boning

Kids Definition of bone (Entry 2 of 2)

: to remove the bones from bone a fish


noun, often attributive
\ ˈbōn \

Medical Definition of bone 

1 : one of the hard parts of the skeleton of a vertebrate a shoulder bone the bones of the arm

2 : any of various hard animal substances or structures (as baleen or ivory) akin to or resembling bone

3 : the hard largely calcareous connective tissue of which the adult skeleton of most vertebrates is chiefly composed cancellous bone compact bone — compare cartilage sense 1

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More from Merriam-Webster on bone

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bone

Spanish Central: Translation of bone

Nglish: Translation of bone for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on bone

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


the setting in which something occurs

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