skeleton

noun
skel·​e·​ton | \ ˈske-lə-tən How to pronounce skeleton (audio) \

Definition of skeleton

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a usually rigid supportive or protective structure or framework of an organism especially : the bony or more or less cartilaginous framework supporting the soft tissues and protecting the internal organs of a vertebrate
2 : something reduced to its minimum form or essential parts
3 : an emaciated person or animal
4a : something forming a structural framework
b : the straight or branched chain or ring of atoms that forms the basic structure of an organic molecule
5 : something shameful and kept secret (as in a family) often used in the phrase skeleton in the closet
6 : a small sled that is ridden in a prone position and used especially in competition also : the competition itself

skeleton

adjective

Definition of skeleton (Entry 2 of 2)

: of, consisting of, or resembling a skeleton

Illustration of skeleton

Illustration of skeleton

Noun

skeleton 1:1 skull, 2 clavicle, 3 scapula, 4 sternum, 5 humerus, 6 pelvis, 7 carpus, 8 metacarpal bones, 9 phalanges (fingers), 10 tibia, 11 tarsus, 12 metatarsal bones, 13 phalanges (toes), 14 fibula, 15 patella, 16 femur, 17 ulna, 18 radius, 19 spinal column, 20 rib, 21 orbit

In the meaning defined above

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Other Words from skeleton

Noun

skeletonic \ ˌske-​lə-​ˈtä-​nik How to pronounce skeletonic (audio) \ adjective

Examples of skeleton in a Sentence

Noun

They found the fossil skeleton of a mastodon. He hung a plastic skeleton on the door for Halloween. She was a skeleton after her illness. Only the charred skeleton of the house remained after the fire. We saw a skeleton of the report before it was published.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In 1996, the 9,000-year-old skeleton of an early North American man washed out of a muddy bank of the Columbia River near Kennewick, Washington, and into 20 years of controversy. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "DNA may reconnect Aboriginal Australian remains with modern communities," 27 Dec. 2018 Lots of macaw parrot skeletons and feathers have turned up at human settlements in the southwestern US and northwestern Mexico dating back to at least 900 CE. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "DNA reveals ancient parrot breeder supplied US Southwest peoples," 15 Aug. 2018 Germany still remains second in the ranks (17) as Jacqueline Loelling took home silver in women’s skeleton and Andreas Wellinger came in second in men’s ski jumping large hill. Jenna West, SI.com, "PyeongChang Olympics Medal Count: Norway Still Leading; Hanyu Wins 1,000th Winter Games Gold," 17 Feb. 2018 The mother and daughter pair posed on the couch together, next to what looks like a real skeleton, draped in black lace. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Kylie Jenner Shares Halloween Costume and Decorations on Social Media," 27 Oct. 2018 Party supplies store Oriental Trading is selling mermaid skeletons for Halloween—and they're set to make a splash this year. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Mermaid Skeletons Are Here to Make a Splash This Halloween," 10 Oct. 2018 Everything really came together, however, when James turned the bottom half of Kylie's face into a skeleton, creating literally the perfect Halloween look. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Beauty Vlogger James Charles Just Did Kylie Jenner’s Makeup And It’s Too Fierce For Words," 9 Oct. 2018 There was a pigeon skeleton, an old shoe, and a mason’s bucket trowel. Joe Alonso, Popular Mechanics, "The Head Stonemason of the National Cathedral Has One Tool He'll Never Get Rid Of," 28 Sep. 2018 The exhibit features animatronic dinosaurs, full skeletons, actual fossils and interactive displays. Matt Campbell, kansascity, "New Union Station exhibit has life-sized moving dinosaurs and bones you can touch," 29 June 2018

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

Noun

1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1778, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for skeleton

Noun

New Latin, from Greek, neuter of skeletos dried up; akin to Greek skellein to dry up, sklēros hard and perhaps to Old English sceald shallow

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Statistics for skeleton

Last Updated

10 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for skeleton

The first known use of skeleton was in 1578

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More Definitions for skeleton

skeleton

noun

English Language Learners Definition of skeleton

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the structure of bones that supports the body of a person or animal
: a set or model of all the bones in the body of a person
: a very thin person or animal

skeleton

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of skeleton (Entry 2 of 2)

: having the smallest possible number of people who can get a job done

skeleton

noun
skel·​e·​ton | \ ˈske-lə-tən How to pronounce skeleton (audio) \

Kids Definition of skeleton

1 : a firm structure or framework of a living thing that in vertebrates (as fish, birds, or humans) is typically made of bone and supports the soft tissues of the body and protects the internal organs
2 : framework the steel skeleton of a building

skeleton

noun
skel·​e·​ton | \ ˈskel-ət-ᵊn How to pronounce skeleton (audio) \

Medical Definition of skeleton

1 : a usually rigid supportive or protective structure or framework of an organism especially : the bony or more or less cartilaginous framework supporting the soft tissues and protecting the internal organs of a vertebrate
2 : the straight or branched chain or ring of atoms that forms the basic structure of an organic molecule

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Comments on skeleton

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of or relating to a parable or parabola

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