skeleton

noun
skel·e·ton | \ˈske-lə-tən \

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 rib, 7 pelvis, 8 radius, 9 ulna, 10 carpus, 11 metacarpal bones, 12 phalanges (fingers), 13 femur, 14 patella, 15 tibia, 16 fibula, 17 tarsus, 18 metatarsal bones, 19 phalanges (toes), 20 spinal column

In the meaning defined above

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Other Words from skeleton

Noun

skeletonic \ˌske-lə-ˈtä-nik \ 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

Researchers were able to see that one of the skeletons was a woman who was still wearing two bronze bracelets. National Geographic, "Burned Skeletons Are Rare Remains of Ancient Goth Invasion," 5 June 2018 However, it may be composed of skeletons from two different dinosaurs, according to Science. Sarah Gray, Fortune, "Dinosaur Skeleton Sells for Over $2 Million at Auction in Paris," 3 Feb. 2018 When the partial remains of two skeletons believed to be the remaining Romanov children, Alexei and Maria, were found in 2007 and similarly tested, most people assumed they would be reburied there as well. Simon Sebag Montefiore, Town & Country, "The Devastating True Story of the Romanov Family's Execution," 5 Oct. 2016 Signs of the disease may even be present in a 4,000-year-old skeleton. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Did Leprosy Originate in Europe?," 14 May 2018 Or consider the competitors in skeleton, the terrifying event where athletes shoot headfirst down a sinuous ice track on a sled without brakes at speeds exceeding 80 miles an hour. Guy Trebay, New York Times, "Embracing Fashion, Saggers to Sequins, at the Winter Games," 21 Feb. 2018 Teeth are disproportionately prevalent in archaeological sites: scientists often find dozens or hundreds for every skeleton or skull. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "How Ancient Teeth Reveal The Roots of Humankind," 2 July 2018 The exhibit features a few species of live crocs, skeletons, and an interactive component where visitors can test their strength against that of a crocodile's bite. Sarah Maiellano, USA TODAY, "The best museum exhibits in the USA for summer 2018," 4 June 2018 Not a new bone or skeleton, but a totally new species. Robert Clark, National Geographic, "Why Today is the Golden Age for Dinosaur Discoveries," 2 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

20 Oct 2018

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 \

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 \

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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