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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for wishbone

Historical Examples of wishbone

  • 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

  • In proportion as a man's backbone weakens his wishbone seems to develop.

    Dollars and Sense

    Col. Wm. C. Hunter

  • When he got the wishbone of the chicken all insisted that Lin and he pull it.

  • And say, folks, if any of you get a wishbone in your meat, will you save it for me?

    At the Little Brown House

    Ruth Alberta Brown

British Dictionary definitions for wishbone



the V-shaped bone above the breastbone in most birds consisting of the fused clavicles; furcula

Word Origin for wishbone

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

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

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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.