bare bones

See synonyms for: bare bonesbarebones on

plural noun
  1. the irreducible minimum; the most essential components: Reduce this report to its bare bones. There is nothing left of the town but the bare bones—a couple of stores, a church, and a few houses.

Origin of bare bones

First recorded in 1910–15

Other words from bare bones

  • bare-bones, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use bare bones in a sentence

  • Here in a few paragraphs are the bare bones of the plan described in eighty of Henry James's pages.

    Instigations | Ezra Pound
  • A lot of speculation necessarily clothed the bare bones of Jones' information.

    The Hour of Battle | Robert Sheckley
  • Hiawatha looked on wistfully to see them eat till they were fully satisfied, and they left him nothing but the bare bones.

  • It was the bare bones of this old earth, as sombre and foreboding as any ruin of granite under the wrack of the bleak north.

    Old Junk | H. M. Tomlinson
  • I have lived to see the people who go into the desert for adventure, and whose bare bones are all any man looks on again!

    The Treasure Trail | Marah Ellis Ryan

British Dictionary definitions for bare-bones


  1. basic or simple; no-frills

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with bare bones

bare bones

The mere essentials or plain, unadorned framework of something, as in This outline gives just the bare bones of the story; details will come later. This phrase transfers the naked skeleton of a body to figurative use. [c. 1900]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.