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[wish-bohn] /ˈwɪʃˌboʊn/
a forked bone, formed by the fusion of the two clavicles, in front of the breastbone in most birds; furcula.
Football. an offensive formation in which the fullback is positioned directly behind the quarterback and the two halfbacks are positioned farther behind and to the left and right, respectively.
Origin of wishbone
1850-55, Americanism; wish + bone; so called from the custom of pulling the furcula of a cooked fowl apart until it breaks, the person holding the longer (sometimes shorter) piece being granted a wish Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for wishbone
Historical Examples
  • Her face was a regular oval, like the opening in a wishbone.

    The Forest Stewart Edward White
  • She used to love to come to dinner at our house so she could have a wishbone.

    Mary Rose of Mifflin Frances R. Sterrett
  • Elnora drew the knife from its holder and cut off the wishbone.

    A Girl Of The Limberlost Gene Stratton Porter
  • In proportion as a man's backbone weakens his wishbone seems to develop.

    Dollars and Sense Col. Wm. C. Hunter
  • To the east, to the south, to the north went the riders of the wishbone, gathering the cattle which the fires had driven afar.

    Lonesome Land B. M. Bower
  • When he got the wishbone of the chicken all insisted that Lin and he pull it.

    Watch Yourself Go By Al. G. Field
  • I'm to hold the wishbone with both hands, like this, and walk backward, repeating the wish nine times.

    The Golden Road Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • In this operation note the V-shaped wishbone in front of the sternum.

  • On the other hand if we develop our backbone and use it frequently, we may not have cause to use the wishbone so much.

    Dollars and Sense Col. Wm. C. Hunter
  • I don't know whether it's the wrench at my heart or the strain on my wishbone.

    J. Poindexter, Colored Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb
British Dictionary definitions for wishbone


the V-shaped bone above the breastbone in most birds consisting of the fused clavicles; furcula
Word Origin
C17: from the custom of two people breaking apart the bone after eating: the person with the longer part makes a wish
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for wishbone

1860, from wish + bone (n.); so called from the custom of making a wish while pulling the bone in two with another person. The wishbone breaking custom dates to the early 17c., when the bone was a merrythought.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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wishbone in Science
The forked bone in front of the breastbone in most birds, consisting of the two collarbones partly fused together. It serves as a spring, capturing some of the energy during the downward stroke of the wings for release on the upward stroke.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for wishbone



A football formation in which the quarterback and three other backs line up in a Y pattern with the quarterback at the base and directly behind the center (1970s+ Football)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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