English edit

Pronunciation edit

  • enPR: skĕˈ -lə-tən, skĕˈ -lət-n; IPA(key): /ˈskɛlətən/, /ˈskɛləʔ.n̩/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛlətən

Etymology 1 edit

From New Latin sceleton, from Ancient Greek σκελετόν (skeletón), the neuter of σκελετός (skeletós, dried up, withered, dried body, parched, mummy), from σκέλλω (skéllō, dry, dry up, make dry, parch), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)kelh₁- (to parch, wither); compare Ancient Greek σκληρός (sklērós, hard).

Alternative forms edit

Noun edit

skeleton (plural skeletons or skeleta)

  1. (anatomy) The system that provides support to an organism, internal and made up of bones and cartilage in vertebrates, external in some other animals.
    • 1881–1882, Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Treasure Hunt—Flint’s Pointer”, in Treasure Island, London, Paris: Cassell & Company, published 14 November 1883, →OCLC, part VI (Captain Silver), page 263:
      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. An anthropomorphic representation of a skeleton.
    She dressed up as a skeleton for Halloween.
    • 1724, Charles Johnson, “Of Captain Spriggs and His Crew”, in A General History of the Pyrates, [], 2nd edition, London: Printed for, and sold by T. Warner, [], →OCLC, pages 411–412:
      A Day or two after they parted, [Francis] Spriggs was choſe Captain by the reſt, and a black Enſign was made, which they called Jolly Roger, with the ſame Device that Captain [Edward] Low carried, viz. a white Skeliton in the Middle of it, with a Dart in one Hand ſtriking a bleeding Heart, and in the other, an Hour Glaſs; when this was finiſhed and hoiſted, they fired all their Guns to ſalute their Captain and themſelves, and then looked out for Prey.
  3. (figuratively) A very thin person.
    She lost so much weight while she was ill that she became a skeleton.
  4. (figuratively) The central core of something that gives shape to the entire structure.
    The skeleton of the organisation is essentially the same as it was ten years ago, but many new faces have come and gone.
  5. (architecture) A frame that provides support to a building or other construction.
  6. (computing, middleware) A client-helper procedure that communicates with a stub.
    Coordinate term: stub
    In remote method invocation, the client helper is a ‘stub’ and the service helper is a ‘skeleton’.
  7. (geometry) The vertices and edges of a polyhedron, taken collectively.
  8. (printing) A very thin form of light-faced type.
  9. (especially attributive) A minimum or bare essentials.
    • 1960 August, L. Hyland, “The Irish Scene”, in Trains Illustrated, page 468:
      At the time of writing the halts have been reprieved due to doubts as to the legality of the withdrawal of services. It is feared that this reprieve may not outlast the summer timetable which, on the section in question, provides only a skeleton of the former service.
    • 2020 April 8, Matt Lovering, “An opportunity for the rail industry to deliver major change”, in Rail, page 46:
      The rail industry has survived the first fortnight of the UK's COVID-19 crisis. Quick intervention from the Department of Transport has ensured that franchise operators will remain solvent during this period; rapid work to replan the timetable has delivered a minimum viable service plan; and the Kitchener-esque appeal for retired signal workers should ensure that the network can continue to operate a skeleton service.
  10. (botany) The network of veins in a leaf.
    • 1870, Robert Kemp Philp, Best of everything, by the author of 'Enquire within'., page 336:
      However interesting the skeleton of a leaf that has been bleached by nature may be, it cannot be alleged to be beautiful in colour, and therefore it is not of much value for the purposes of household decoration.
    • 2010, Ruth B. McDowell, Piecing: Expanding The Basics:
      Rather than abstracting the leaf from the outline of the leaf, I can begin by working from the skeleton of the leaf.
    • 2016, Dueep Jyot Singh, John Davidson, Mendon Cottage Books, Skeleton Leaves - Preserving Leaves for Everlasting Beauty, page 10:
      This is going to get rid of all the green leafy debris sticking to the skeleton of the leaf and you are going to find a really attractive fiber network of your leaf.
  11. (idiomatic) Clipping of skeleton in the closet (a shameful secret).
Synonyms edit
Derived terms edit
Translations edit
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Verb edit

skeleton (third-person singular simple present skeletons, present participle skeletoning, simple past and past participle skeletoned)

  1. (archaic) To reduce to a skeleton; to skin; to skeletonize.
  2. (archaic) To minimize.

See also edit

Etymology 2 edit

The etymology of the term is disputed between two versions.[1]

  • From the sled used, which originally was a bare frame, like a skeleton.[1]
  • From Norwegian kjaelke (a type of ice sled) through a bad anglicization as "skele".[1]

Noun edit

skeleton (uncountable)

  1. (sports, uncountable) A type of tobogganing in which competitors lie face down, and descend head first.
    Synonym: skeleton tobogganing
    Coordinate terms: luge, bobsled
    • 2020 July 26, Matthew Futterman, “Sledhead”, in New York Times[1]:
      Lugers, who slide feet first and reach the highest speeds, experience some of the same forces, but seem to suffer far fewer concussion-like symptoms than bobsled and skeleton athletes do, probably because a support strap often prevents their heads from banging into the ice.
Translations edit

References edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 IBSF (International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation), "Skeleton history" (2015)

Further reading edit

Esperanto edit

Noun edit


  1. accusative singular of skeleto

French edit

French Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia fr

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

skeleton m (uncountable)

  1. skeleton (winter sport)

Derived terms edit

Portuguese edit

Noun edit

skeleton m (uncountable)

  1. skeleton (type of tobogganing)

Related terms edit