Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Date: 1500-1600
Language: Modern Latin
Origin: Greek, from skeletos 'dried up'


Related topics: Biology, Medicine


a) HB the structure consisting of all the bones in a human or animal body:
the human skeleton
b) M a set of these bones or a model of them, fastened in their usual positions, used for example by medical students

basic parts

[singular] the most important parts of something, to which more detail can be added later:
We agreed on a skeleton outline of the proposal.

thin person

[countable] an extremely thin person or animal:
The disease had reduced Harry to a skeleton.


[countable] the main structure that supports a building, bridge etc:
Minutes after the explosion, all that remained was the skeleton of the bridge.

a skeleton in the closet

also a skeleton in the cupboard British English an embarrassing or unpleasant secret about something that happened to you in the past

skeleton staff/crew/service etc

only enough workers or services to keep an operation or organization running:
The bus company is operating a skeleton service on Christmas Day.


[countable, singular] a sport in which you slide down a special ice track while lying on your front on a type of sledge, or the vehicle you slide on bobsleigh, luge

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