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From Latin os, ossis (bone) +‎ -ify.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈɒs.ɪ.faɪ/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈɑ.sə.faɪ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪ


ossify (third-person singular simple present ossifies, present participle ossifying, simple past and past participle ossified)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To transform (or cause to transform) from a softer animal substance into bone; particularly the processes of growth in humans and animals.
    • 1884, Arthur C. Cole, Studies in Microscopical Science, page 35,
      [] , nor do all bones of the same skeleton ossify during the samе period of time.
  2. (transitive, intransitive, animate) To become (or cause to become) inflexible and rigid in habits or opinions.
    • 1996, Peter Schwartz, The Art of the Long View , page 96,
      Before long, the entire organization ossifies.
    • 2006, Michael S. Jones, Metaphysics of Religion: Lucian Blaga and Contemporary Philosophy , page 79,
      Possession of absolute knowledge would ossify the human spirit, quenching human creativity;
  3. (transitive, intransitive, inanimate) To grow (or cause to grow) formulaic and permanent.
    • 1886, Karl Marx, translated by Samuel Moore, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 14,
      This accidental repartition gets repeated, develops advantages of its own, and gradually ossifies into a systematic division of labour.
    • 2001, Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Kevin O'Neill and David Suchoff, The Wisdom of Love , page 55,
      Now, in turn, we apply a revolutionary critique that [] ossifies into a rhetoric to become "the monstrous Latin of a monstrous church."
    • 2005, Michelle Goldberg, "The war on 'Munich'",, December 20, 2005,
      [T]he charge threatens to ossify into conventional wisdom before the movie's audience can get to theaters to see how misguided it is.
  4. (rare) To calcify.
    • 1850, Roxey Ann Caplin, Health and Beauty, Chapter X,
      The cartilages become brittle, and in many instances are ossified; the ligaments are rendered harder, but are less capable of resisting extension.


  • (become inflexible and rigid): harden

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