skeleton

[ skel-i-tn ]
/ ˈskɛl ɪ tn /

noun

adjective

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

Idioms

    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

Related forms

skel·e·ton·less, adjectiveskel·e·ton·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for skeleton

British Dictionary definitions for skeleton

skeleton

/ (ˈskɛlɪtən) /

noun

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

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

Medicine definitions for skeleton

skeleton

[ skĕlĭ-tn ]

n.

The internal structure composed of bone and cartilage that protects and supports the soft organs, tissues, and other parts of a vertebrate organism; endoskeleton.
All the bones of the body taken collectively.
The exoskeleton.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for skeleton

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.

Related forms

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