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 And, world's biggest triceratop skeleton has sold for $7.7 million. USA TODAY, 24 Oct. 2021 Teyana Taylor showed up dressed in a shark costume and a leather Vanson skeleton jacket. Emerald Elitou, Essence, 23 Oct. 2021 The eggs are about the size of a chicken's, and the skeleton of a hatchling fits in the palm of a human hand. Reuters, CNN, 22 Oct. 2021 There, visitors will find creepy clowns and witches, and eclectic tableaus, such as a skeleton having a spa moment. BostonGlobe.com, 21 Oct. 2021 Along with light’s larger cousins, medium and heavy, the neurofilaments provide the skeleton needed for axons to function. Max G. Levy, Wired, 21 Oct. 2021 Or, switch the skeleton for other figures, like Mr. Klock has. Matthew Kronsberg, WSJ, 20 Oct. 2021 This room styled by Viviana Venters is clearly decorated for Halloween with the addition of a friendly skeleton and large spider, but the space isn't overwhelmed with a lot of small items. Emily Vanschmus, Better Homes & Gardens, 19 Oct. 2021 Among them was Monika Sosnowska, a Polish artist whose giant sculpture Stairs makes for a menacing mobile, hanging from the museum's ceiling like a dinosaur's skeleton. Simon Willis, Travel + Leisure, 18 Oct. 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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Dictionary Entries Near skeleton

skeletal muscle

skeleton

skeleton chase

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Statistics for skeleton

Last Updated

26 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Skeleton.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/skeleton. Accessed 26 Oct. 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

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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