adjective, bon·i·er, bon·i·est.

of or like bone.
full of bones.
having prominent bones; big-boned.
skinny; emaciated.

Origin of bony

First recorded in 1350–1400, bony is from the Middle English word boni. See bone, -y1
Related formsbon·i·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bony

Contemporary Examples of bony

Historical Examples of bony

  • He closed his great, bony fist in unspeakable agony at the thought.

  • I am lean and bony and I've got a beak where I should have a nose.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • I looked in vain for the hands and feet of my ideal, large and bony.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • He was small and thin, with a bony face, already wrinkled at twenty-seven.

    His Masterpiece

    Emile Zola

  • He is a huge, bony Irishman, and somewhat restless in his sleep.

British Dictionary definitions for bony


adjective bonier or boniest

resembling or consisting of bone or bones
having many bones
having prominent bonesbony cheeks
thin or emaciateda bony old woman
Derived Formsboniness, noun
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

Word Origin and History for bony

late 14c., from bone (n.) + -y (2).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

bony in Medicine



Of, relating to, resembling, or consisting of bone.
Having an internal skeleton of bones.
Having prominent or protruding bones.
Lean; scrawny.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.