noun, often attributive
\ ˈbōn How to pronounce bone (audio) \

Definition of bone

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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 4a 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 3)

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 3)

: extremely, very bone tired also : totally

Other Words from bone


boned \ ˈbōnd How to pronounce bone (audio) \ adjective
boneless \ ˈbōn-​ləs How to pronounce bone (audio) \ adjective

Examples of bone in a Sentence

Noun 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. Adverb The air is bone dry. grew up in a backwoods area that was bone poor See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This cuts to the bone of a satisfying subscription: Your product must be evolving to continue to excite your customers and continually reinforce the value proposition. Roy Barak, Forbes, 15 June 2022 Brady pushed hit putt way right, and still has some meat on the bone. Riley Hamel, USA TODAY, 2 June 2022 Finally, it's simmered in a cascade of San Marzano tomatoes until the meat is falling off the bone. Janelle Davis, CNN, 22 May 2022 Grilling it on the bone, with head and tail intact, helps guard against overcooking. Kitty Greenwald, WSJ, 18 May 2022 That hugeness makes the quiet devastation on display here cut even deeper to the bone. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 17 May 2022 Score the flesh with a knife, parallel to the rib bones, down to the bone, 2 or 3 times on each side of the fish. San Antonio Express-News, 17 May 2022 There are the perennial gripes about his production, but, as always, the criticisms about Bleachers cut closest to the bone. Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, 16 May 2022 The stiffly sweet liquor mixed with the meaty oils that clung to the bone, creating the world's fattiest cocktail. Andi Berlin, The Arizona Republic, 11 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb As to roasting, Don likes to bone out the chicken or spatchcock it by removing the backbone, before seasoning and rubbing with olive oil and roasting in the oven at 300 degrees for up to three hours. Kim Sunée, Anchorage Daily News, 28 Oct. 2021 It’s the champion of the all-around: agile enough to make delicate work of veggies and sturdy enough to bone a chicken. Amiel Stanek, Bon Appétit, 10 Nov. 2020 But for the rest of the carcass, here in Louisiana, people like to bone it out and grind it. Will Coviello,, 18 Sep. 2020 Whether slicing a tomato or peach for a summertime main dish salad, mincing garlic, or boning fish, there is a perfect knife for the job. Patricia S York, Southern Living, 20 May 2020 To ensure the essential supply of chicken for Canadians across the country, the poultry industry as a whole is shifting away from de-boning chicken legs to increase their production capacity. Shelly Hagan,, 5 May 2020 Late at night in November 2011, Ted Flores was coming home from running errands in Highland, Ind., when a car T-boned his at an intersection. Washington Post, 23 Dec. 2019 Place wings bone side down on grill and grill covered 10 min. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, 1 Apr. 2020 Halfway through the drive, Olomola was T-boned by another automobile. Nick Givas, Fox News, 14 Feb. 2020 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

19 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Bone.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for bone


\ ˈbōn How to pronounce bone (audio) \

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 How to pronounce bone (audio) \

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

Bone biographical name

\ ˈbōn How to pronounce Bone (audio) \

Definition of Bone

Sir Muirhead 1876–1953 Scottish etcher and painter

More from Merriam-Webster on bone

Nglish: Translation of bone for Spanish Speakers

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


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