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

There was an all-over orange outfit that followed, with a standout Dries Van Noten bag, and then an especially wacky, animated Walter Von Beirendonck jacket made to look like a crude skeleton. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "Lil Uzi Vert Even Gets Dressed Up to Go to the Dentist," 8 May 2019 What happened next was revealed when a battered skeleton was unearthed in 2012 from an unmarked grave under an English parking... John J. Ross, WSJ, "‘Skeleton Keys’ Review: How to Grow a Spine," 1 Mar. 2019 Digging for resources can now yield rare, collectible artifacts, and even alien skeletons. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "No Man’s Sky’s new update makes its sci-fi worlds even more alien," 21 Nov. 2018 Earlier this week, Kylie kicked off the spooky season wearing matching skeleton costumes with her daughter Stormi. Alyssa Hardy, Teen Vogue, "Kylie Jenner Dressed Like a Giant Pink Butterfly for Halloween," 29 Oct. 2018 The Catskill Mountain Railroad’s Rails of Terror combines all the best elements of Halloween: creepy clowns, axe murders, wicked witches, even skeletons dressed as scarecrows. Megan Stein, Country Living, "This Haunted Halloween Train Ride Is the Best Way to Scare Yourself Silly," 23 Oct. 2018 Ambrose goes digging, and as more and more skeletons (literal and figurative) start turning up, the story begins to morph into something bigger. Karen Han, Vox, "The Sinner is the rare murder mystery that doesn’t care whodunnit. Instead, it asks, “Why?”," 31 July 2018 Dark matter connects clusters of galaxies with massive tendrils, forming a cosmic web that serves as an unseen skeleton for the universe. Amina Khan, latimes.com, "After years of searching, scientists can finally account for all the normal matter in the universe," 20 June 2018 Geneticists are already examining ancient human skeletons for genes associated with speech. Jared Diamond, New York Times, "A Brand-New Version of Our Origin Story," 20 Apr. 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

19 May 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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