[ skel-i-tn ]
/ ˈskɛl ɪ tn /
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See synonyms for: skeleton / skeletonlike on Thesaurus.com

of or relating to a skeleton.
like or being a mere framework; reduced to the essential or minimal parts or numbers: a skeleton staff.
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Idioms about skeleton

    skeleton at the feast, a person or thing that casts gloom over a joyful occasion; a note or reminder of sorrow in the midst of joy.
    skeleton in the closet / cupboard,
    1. a family scandal that is concealed to avoid public disgrace.
    2. any embarrassing, shameful, or damaging secret.

Origin of skeleton

1570–80; <New Latin <Greek: mummy, noun use of neuter of skeletós dried up, verbid of skéllein to dry


skel·e·ton·less, adjectiveskel·e·ton·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is the sport of skeleton?

Skeleton is a sport in which an individual racer rides a small, railed sled headfirst down an ice-covered chute with the goal of reaching the finish line as quickly as possible. The sled itself is also called a skeleton.

The sport is sometimes also called skeleton sledding. The sled is sometimes called a skeleton bobsled or skeleton bobsleigh. Racers steer by making slight shifts in their body position. To slow down, racers can drag a foot on the ice.

Skeleton is known as one of the sliding sports, along with luge and bobsleigh (also called bobsled), which take place on a similar course. In skeleton, racers ride on their stomachs, in contrast with luge, in which racers lie on their backs.

Skeleton is an event in the Winter Olympics.

Due to the vulnerable position of the athletes and the extremely high speeds they can reach—over 80 mph (129 km/h)—skeleton is considered one of the most dangerous winter sports.

Example: Skeleton seems very similar to luge, but the strategies used in each sport are actually quite different.

Where does skeleton come from?

The sport of skeleton and its name can be traced to the late 1800s. The sled may get its name from the skeletal appearance of early versions.

The sport was developed in the 1880s in Switzerland, where it was popularized at the Cresta Run, a famous toboggan and luge slope. In the late 1880s, competitions there began featuring skeleton as an independent event (separate from the similar luge).

Skeleton was featured at the Winter Olympics first in 1928 and then again in 1948—both years when the Winter Games were hosted in Switzerland. The event was added to the Winter Olympics again in 2002 and has been featured at every one since.

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What are some synonyms for skeleton (the sport)?

  • skeleton sledding

What are some synonyms for skeleton (the sled)?

  • skeleton sled
  • skeleton bobsled
  • skeleton bobsleigh

What are some words that often get used in discussing skeleton?

How is skeleton used in real life?

Skeleton is known as one of the most dangerous winter sports. It is especially popular in its birthplace, Switzerland, and nearby countries. It often enters greater mainstream awareness around the time of the Winter Olympics


Try using skeleton!

True or False? 

The sleds in skeleton have brakes.

How to use skeleton in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for skeleton

/ (ˈskɛlɪtən) /

a hard framework consisting of inorganic material that supports and protects the soft parts of an animal's body and provides attachment for muscles: may be internal (an endoskeleton), as in vertebrates, or external( an exoskeleton), as in arthropodsSee also endoskeleton, exoskeleton
informal a very thin emaciated person or animal
the essential framework of any structure, such as a building or leaf, that supports or determines the shape of the rest of the structure
an outline consisting of bare essentialsthe skeleton of a novel
(modifier) US and Canadian reduced to a minimuma skeleton staff
skeleton in the cupboard or US and Canadian skeleton in the closet a scandalous fact or event in the past that is kept secret

Derived forms of skeleton

skeletal, adjectiveskeletally, adverbskeleton-like, adjective

Word Origin for skeleton

C16: via New Latin from Greek: something desiccated, from skellein to dry up
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

Scientific definitions for skeleton

[ skĕlĭ-tn ]

The internal structure of vertebrate animals, composed of bone or cartilage, that supports the body, serves as a framework for the attachment of muscles, and protects the vital organs and associated structures.
A hard protective covering or supporting structure of invertebrate animals. See also endoskeleton exoskeleton.

Other words from skeleton

skeletal adjective
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.