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

Decorated with all sorts of nautical equipment, such as harpoons, diver outfits and helmets, a whale jaw bone and original paintings by Wolowiec. Shonda Talerico Dudlicek, Elgin Courier-News, "Guide to outdoor dining in Chicago suburbs: Port Edward in Algonquin," 7 July 2018 Their bones were a source of fascination to President Thomas Jefferson. Nancy Daly,, "State drawing down water level at Big Bone Lick lake because of leak," 26 June 2018 In most extinct dinosaurs their tongue bones are very short. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Dinosaurs Could Barely Use Their Tongues," 20 June 2018 Pearce, who made his bones in Hollywood co-writing blockbusters like Iron Man 3 and Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation, knows how to dress his world up nicely. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Hotel Artemis Wastes Its Cult-Classic Potential," 8 June 2018 Located in Torrington, the biggest city in Litchfield County, Connecticut, the time capsule-esque home boasts period charm and strong bones, that, with a refresh, could become a stunner. Lauren Ro, Curbed, "Midcentury home with retro details wants $245K," 29 May 2018 Unsurprisingly, Ryanair, one of the pioneers of the bare-bones approach to air travel, is still the cheapest way to fly around Europe—just ten cents a kilometer. Sebastian Modak, Condé Nast Traveler, "These Are the Actual Cheapest Airlines in the World," 17 May 2018 But the bones from the tomb are particularly extraordinary. The Economist, "A new species of gibbon is found in a 2,200-year-old tomb," 23 June 2018 Animal bones are abundant in the cave, suggesting that people here ate large amounts of meat. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "30,000-year-old jawbone records tough diet in Pleistocene Southeast Asia," 6 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Aaron Daniel was among four people killed when a Jeep being chased by Independence police T-boned another vehicle Friday. Katie Bernard And Aaron Randle, kansascity, "Owner of Jeep that fled Independence police knows who stole SUV before fatal crash," 5 June 2018 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 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


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


circa 1825, in the meaning defined above

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

12 Nov 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

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