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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun After a crew from the California Academy of Sciences conducted its necropsy, Sudan and his own crew sawed the blubber from the bones and disassembled and preserved the skeleton, a project that took a full year. Sam Whiting, San Francisco Chronicle, 30 June 2022 His skeleton, which is 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall and 25 feet (7.6 meters) long, has been studied since 2006. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 13 June 2022 Based on real-life events and people, Tracy Chevalier's novel takes place in 19th century England and tells the story of uneducated Mary Anning who uncovers an unusual fossilized skeleton, which rattles the scientific community. Sophie Dweck, Town & Country, 13 May 2022 As its name implies, Big John is a rather large triceratops skeleton, one that originated in the Hell Creek Formation in Montana. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 7 Apr. 2022 This disparity has had paleontologists scratching their heads since famed dinosaur hunter Barnum Brown unearthed the first complete T. rex skeleton in Hell Creek, Montana back in 1908. Manasee Wagh, Popular Mechanics, 4 Apr. 2022 The novel sometimes veers into the realm of magical realism: Ruthie has a vision of a flying, skeleton-like creature while out hunting with her dad, while Rutherford tells his daughter stories of elk the size of school buses. Erin Berger, Outside Online, 3 Oct. 2020 Here's something that might spook Halloween lovers: Home Depot's popular 12-foot skeleton decoration is currently sold out. Brett Molina, USA TODAY, 18 July 2022 But, Lalo finds his way into Breaking Bad in two ways: name and skeleton. Keith Nelson, Men's Health, 12 July 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near skeleton

skeletal muscle

skeleton

skeleton chase

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Statistics for skeleton

Last Updated

3 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Skeleton.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/skeleton. Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for skeleton

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

More from Merriam-Webster on skeleton

Nglish: Translation of skeleton for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of skeleton for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about skeleton

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