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 skeleton (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 The same applied to days in which only a skeleton crew was working. Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express-News, "Garcia: City government transparency becomes an issue in mayor's race," 7 Apr. 2021 The work force on Northwestern Mutual’s downtown campus, 4,000 strong before the pandemic, shrank to a skeleton crew of fewer than 200. John Gurda, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Opinion: With COVID-19 vaccination expanding, 'normal' could return with blinding speed," 31 Mar. 2021 That means only a skeleton crew, including the U.S. ambassador, will stay behind in Yangon, the country's commercial capital and largest city. Morgan Winsor And Conor Finnegan, ABC News, "US orders some diplomats to evacuate Myanmar amid deadly crackdown on protesters," 31 Mar. 2021 For many of us the pandemic was a great social winnowing, a paring down of our widest circles of friends to a skeleton crew of essentials — those who happened to be proximate, available, in our circle of trust. New York Times, "We Want Our Friends Back! (But Which Ones?)," 27 Mar. 2021 The store remained in hibernation until the end of June, when management brought back a skeleton crew. Madison Malone Kircher, Vulture, "How the Strand Lost Its Workers," 19 Mar. 2021 As a result, a skeleton crew of staff is left to operate the prison. Star Tribune, "US prison guards refusing vaccine despite COVID-19 outbreaks," 15 Mar. 2021 In addition to Teratophoneus, researchers have also found seven species of turtles, multiple fish and ray species, two other kinds of dinosaurs and a nearly complete skeleton of a juvenile Deinosuchus alligator. David Bressan, Forbes, "Mass Death Site May Prove Tyrannosaurs Have Lived In Packs," 20 Apr. 2021 The narrative skeleton is, if anything, even more generic, and also a reminder that the generic has its pleasures. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ is a moving adventure (review)," 5 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for skeleton

Time Traveler

The first known use of skeleton was in 1578

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Statistics for skeleton

Last Updated

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Skeleton.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/skeleton. Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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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

Comments on skeleton

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