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 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 \ 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 Huitzuco, a town in the lawless state of Guerrero, Mario Vergara, a slightly built, voluble man nicknamed the Atomic Ant, pores over medical books, training himself to recognize bones of the human skeleton. Juan Montes, WSJ, "‘It’s a Crisis of Civilization in Mexico.’ 250,000 Dead. 37,400 Missing.," 14 Nov. 2018 Clothes, personal possession and other parts of skeletons also were recovered, but investigators focused on the skulls in counting, because each corresponds to one person. Fox News, "Mexican prosecutors find 166 skulls in mass graves," 6 Sep. 2018 In the early weeks of production, the company’s body shop, where the skeleton of the cars would take shape, wasn’t fully functional, according to an October 2017 article in The Wall Street Journal. Aruna Viswanatha, WSJ, "Tesla Faces Deepening Criminal Probe Over Whether It Misstated Production Figures," 26 Oct. 2018 Inside a miniature tomb, in the middle of what used to be a sprawling Roman villa, is the skeleton of a 10-year-old child who died more than 1,500 years ago. Kristine Phillips, The Seattle Times, "Archaeologists find ‘vampire burial’ site of a child feared capable of rising from the dead," 26 Oct. 2018 As natural as all of this can feel, the skeleton of the game will be familiar to anyone who has played a Rockstar game before. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Red Dead Redemption 2 is the most convincing open-world game ever made," 25 Oct. 2018 Museum of ZoologyNerd out over skeletons of extinct creatures like the dodo at this on campus institution, which reopened in June after a five-year restoration. Jo Rodgers, Condé Nast Traveler, "Cambridge Is Worth More than Just a Day Trip from London," 17 Oct. 2018 Archaeologists have discovered the skeleton of a 10-year-old child at an ancient Roman site in Italy with a rock carefully placed in its mouth. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Fifth-century child’s skeleton shows evidence of “vampire burial”," 13 Oct. 2018 Unlike Pompeii, where only stone buildings and the outlines of individuals were preserved, the pyroclastic flows saved entire structures, along with hundreds of skeletons of the inhabitants. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Mount Vesuvius Caused Romans' Heads to Explode," 10 Oct. 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

1 Dec 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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Comments on skeleton

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