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 The sign outside has faded under a relentless Texas sun, but the barbed wire fences are in good shape, maintained by a skeleton crew. Washington Post, "Communities and companies made money off George Floyd’s imprisonment. Inside, Floyd withered.," 19 Oct. 2020 In a separate poll, People’s Choice was won by Buckeye Super Wash, for their skeleton car wash crew. Sam Boyer, cleveland, "Fun ways to take some of the scary out of Halloween: Whit & Whimsey," 16 Oct. 2020 Most reporters, however, are now trying to avoid the White House at all costs and only a skeleton crew of journalists have been on-site in recent days. Oliver Darcy, CNN, "'It's recklessness out here': White House reporters are furious with the White House for having 'endangered' their lives," 6 Oct. 2020 The skeleton itself is 40 feet long and towers over 13 feet tall. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton named Stan sells for record-breaking $31.8M at auction," 7 Oct. 2020 After shutdown measures went into place in March, her facility was able to stay open only for breast cancer patients, with a skeleton crew on-site for patient care while everyone else worked from home. Rachel King, Fortune, "The Zoom effect: Why plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures might be more popular because of the pandemic," 3 Oct. 2020 The slumbering skeleton didn’t have a name until a Times-Picayune photographer snapped his picture and a caption writer dubbed him Lazy Bones. Doug Maccash | Staff Writer, NOLA.com, "Uptown New Orleans skeleton display mostly taking year off, to discourage coronavirus crowds," 2 Oct. 2020 For nearly six months, the rattling of cleaning carts and the pitter-patter of a skeleton crew of custodians were the only sounds at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Anne Quito, Quartz at Work, "The herculean effort it takes to maintain the Met museum during a lockdown," 25 Sep. 2020 But the Capitol in Austin and the surrounding grounds are still closed, off limits to all but a skeleton crew of state workers. Robert T. Garrett, Dallas News, "As legislative session like no other looms, Texas lawmakers face huge budget shortfall, COVID-19 challenges," 24 Sep. 2020

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

25 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Skeleton.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/skeleton. Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for skeleton

skeleton

noun
How to pronounce skeleton (audio)

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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