Meaning of “skeleton” in the English Dictionary

british dictionary

"skeleton" in British English

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skeletonnoun [ C ]

uk /ˈskel.ə.tən/ us /ˈskel.ə.t̬ən/

B2 the frame of bones supporting a human or animal body:

We found an old sheep skeleton up on the cliffs.
figurative Her long illness reduced her to a skeleton (= made her very thin).

the most basic form or structure of something:

The skeleton of my book is written/My book is in skeleton form - now I just have to add the details.

More examples

  • The discovery of the dinosaur skeleton has cast light on why they became extinct.
  • They used carbon dating tests to authenticate the claim that the skeleton was 2 million years old.
  • We went to see the dinosaur skeletons in the Natural History Museum.
  • They found a human skeleton under the building's foundations.
  • He was so thin that you could see his skeleton through his skin.

(Definition of “skeleton” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"skeleton" in American English

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skeletonnoun [ C ]

us /ˈskel·ɪ·tən/

the frame of bones supporting a human or animal body:

We found a deer skeleton.

(Definition of “skeleton” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"skeleton" in Business English

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skeletonadjective [ before noun ]

uk /ˈskelɪtən/ us

used to describe something in its most basic form:

His solicitor confirmed he had faxed a skeleton argument supporting his client's application for bail.
The rail company was hoping to run a skeleton service during the strike.
a skeleton crew/staff/workforce The company cut 10 jobs in their Hong Kong office, leaving only a skeleton staff.

(Definition of “skeleton” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)