plural noun
cross·​bones | \ ˈkrȯs-ˌbōnz How to pronounce crossbones (audio) \

Definition of crossbones

: two leg or arm bones placed or depicted crosswise — compare skull and crossbones

Examples of crossbones in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This was recognition of what ultimately explains how 12 teams, in those three distinct groups, could stand together under the same flag, albeit briefly, albeit without seeming to notice that it was adorned with a skull-and-crossbones. New York Times, 23 Apr. 2021 With a pirate Band-Aid decorated with skulls and crossbones left over from a layer of children—hers? Margaret Atwood, The New Yorker, 19 Apr. 2021 The McQueen lily brooch in antique silver not only looks slightly past its prime, but also, on close inspection, as noted by New York gem dealer and jewelry historian Benjamin Zucker, has minuscule skulls and crossbones atop its pistils. Linda Dyett New York Times, Star Tribune, 16 Apr. 2021 Psycho Bunny, the edgy menswear line best known for its polo shirts and its logo - a skull-and-crossbones with bunny ears - is betting on physical stores, and top U.S. malls, to grow its brand. Joan Verdon, Forbes, 4 Apr. 2021 Up until Queen Victoria’s reign, mourning jewelry was often wickedly macabre with symbols including skulls, crossbones, and reapers. Jill Newman, Town & Country, 13 Mar. 2021 Instead of skulls and crossbones, it has been suggested on some backcountry social media channels that resorts post the pictures of those who have died after exiting a gate. Julie Jag, The Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Mar. 2021 Many of their heads suggest skulls, with the ends of bulbous crossbones protruding behind them and three quick vertical lines at chin level, a trick that hints at missing lower jaws or sags of decaying flesh. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 8 Mar. 2021 Fear is the lure, amplified by a barricade of black iron gates posted with signs of skulls and crossbones. Ligaya Mishan, New York Times, 27 Aug. 2020

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

1686, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for crossbones

Time Traveler

The first known use of crossbones was in 1686

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Statistics for crossbones

Last Updated

5 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Crossbones.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for crossbones


noun plural
cross·​bones | \ ˈkrȯs-ˌbōnz How to pronounce crossbones (audio) \

Kids Definition of crossbones

: two leg or arm bones placed or shown crosswise The pirate's flag bore a skull and crossbones.

More from Merriam-Webster on crossbones

Nglish: Translation of crossbones for Spanish Speakers


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