(1)   The internal supporting structure that gives an artifact its shape
"The building has a steel skeleton"
(2)   The hard structure (bones and cartilages) that provides a frame for the body of an animal
(3)   A scandal that is kept secret
"There must be a skeleton somewhere in that family's closet"
(4)   Something reduced to its minimal form
"The battalion was a mere skeleton of its former self"
"The bare skeleton of a novel"


From , from .


  1. The system that provides support to an organism, internal and made up of bones and cartilage in vertebrates, external in some other animals.
    • 1883, Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island,
      At the foot of a pretty big pine, and involved in a green creeper, which had even partly lifted some of the smaller bones, a human skeleton lay, with a few shreds of clothing, on the ground.
  2. A frame that provides support to a building or other construction.
  3. A very thin person.
    She lost so much weight while she was ill that she became a skeleton.
  4. (From the sled used, which originally was a bare frame, like a skeleton.) A type of tobogganing in which competitors lie face down, and descend head first (compare luge).
  5. The vertices and edges of a polyhedron, taken collectively.

Related terms


  1. to reduce to a skeleton; to skin
  2. to minimize