nec·​rop·​sy | \ ˈne-ˌkräp-sē How to pronounce necropsy (audio) \
plural necropsies

Definition of necropsy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: autopsy sense 1 especially : an autopsy performed on an animal


necropsied; necropsying

Definition of necropsy (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to perform an autopsy on

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Did You Know?

Human autopsies are generally performed either to determine the cause of death or to observe the deadly effects of a disease for research or education purposes. Autopsies may be necessary when tracking an epidemic; they're also performed to discover whether a death might actually have resulted from murder, and if so, what evidence it might reveal that could help catch the murderer. Animal necropsies are actually more common than human autopsies, since a farmer with livestock is always concerned that whatever killed one animal not pose a threat to the others.

Examples of necropsy in a Sentence

Noun a necropsy failed to definitively establish a cause of death
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun After a necropsy, the National Park Service said in a statement the presumptive cause of death was a blood infection caused by an intestinal disease. Shaena Montanari, The Arizona Republic, "How 2 orphan baby mountain lions from California found a home in Scottsdale," 3 Oct. 2020 But in this case, wildlife staff recommending killing the bear, which was transported to Fairbanks for necropsy by an Alaska Department of Fish and Game veterinarian. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Denali Park officials kill ‘food-conditioned’ grizzly in Kantishna-Wonder Lake area," 28 Sep. 2020 The cause of death is undetermined, but zoo officials plan to perform a necropsy to determine why the baby died. Alaa Elassar, CNN, "A critically endangered baby gorilla died six days after being born at Audubon Zoo," 10 Sep. 2020 The zoo's veterinary team will conduct a full necropsy on the elephant and the results won't be available for several weeks, the statement said. Kay Jones And Hollie Silverman, CNN, "Baby elephant dies 27 days after his birth at St. Louis Zoo," 3 Aug. 2020 But in 2007, Colorado mountain lion researcher Eric York contracted the plague during a necropsy and died of the infection. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Plague Has Been Quietly Killing Yellowstone Cougars for a Decade," 8 Apr. 2020 By the time the Department of Health got back to him with the decision to do a necropsy, Buddy had been cremated. Natasha Daly, National Geographic, "Exclusive: Buddy, first dog to test positive for COVID-19 in the U.S., has died," 29 July 2020 Shanthi’s body, which weighed about 8,500 pounds, was removed Saturday, and taken off site for a necropsy and incineration. Michael E. Ruane, Washington Post, "The National Zoo puts down a second elderly elephant.," 27 June 2020 Results of Parker's necropsy are still pending, according to Dr. Stephanie McCain, Birmingham Zoo's director of animal health. NBC News, "Parker, endangered red panda at Alabama zoo, dies at age 4," 9 Mar. 2020

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


circa 1842, in the meaning defined above


1927, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for necropsy


necr- + -opsy (in autopsy), probably after French nécropsie


derivative of necropsy entry 1

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Time Traveler for necropsy

Time Traveler

The first known use of necropsy was circa 1842

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Statistics for necropsy

Last Updated

16 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Necropsy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for necropsy


nec·​rop·​sy | \ ˈnek-ˌräp-sē How to pronounce necropsy (audio) \
plural necropsies

Medical Definition of necropsy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: autopsy especially : an autopsy performed on an animal
necropsied; necropsying

Medical Definition of necropsy (Entry 2 of 2)

: to perform an autopsy especially on an animal

More from Merriam-Webster on necropsy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for necropsy Encyclopedia article about necropsy

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