1. Anatomy, Zoology.
    1. one of the structures composing the skeleton of a vertebrate.
    2. the hard connective tissue forming the substance of the skeleton of most vertebrates, composed of a collagen-rich organic matrix impregnated with calcium, phosphate, and other minerals.
  2. such a structure from an edible animal, usually with meat adhering to it, as an article of food: Pea soup should be made with a ham bone.
  3. any of various similarly hard or structural animal substances, as ivory or whalebone.
  4. something made of or resembling such a substance.
  5. a small concession, intended to pacify or quiet; a conciliatory bribe or gift: The administration threw the student protesters a couple of bones, but refused to make any basic changes in the curriculum or requirements.
  6. bones,
    1. the skeleton.
    2. a body: Let his bones rest in peace.
    3. Games Slang.dice.
    4. (initial capital letter)Mr. Bones.
    5. a simple rhythm instrument consisting of two sometimes curved bars or short strips of bone, ivory, wood, or the like, held between the fingers of one hand and clacked together.
  7. the color of bone; ivory or off-white.
  8. a flat strip of whalebone or other material for stiffening corsets, petticoats, etc.; stay.
  9. Games Slang. a domino.

verb (used with object), boned, bon·ing.

  1. to remove the bones from: to bone a turkey.
  2. to put whalebone or another stiffener into (clothing).
  3. Agriculture. to put bone meal into (feed, fertilizer, etc.).


  1. completely; absolutely: bone tired.
  1. bone up, Informal. to study intensely; cram: We’re going to have to bone up for the exam.
  2. feel in one’s bones, to think or feel intuitively: She felt in her bones that it was going to be a momentous day.
  3. have a bone to pick with someone, to have cause to disagree or argue with someone: The teacher had a bone to pick with him because his homework paper was identical with his neighbor’s.
  4. make no bones about,
    1. to deal with in a direct manner; act or speak openly: He makes no bones about his dislike of modern music.
    2. to have no fear of or objection to.
  5. to the bone,
    1. to the essentials; to the minimum: The government cut social service programs to the bone.
    2. to an extreme degree; thoroughly: chilled to the bone.


  1. a former name of Annaba


  1. any of the various structures that make up the skeleton in most vertebrates
  2. the porous rigid tissue of which these parts are made, consisting of a matrix of collagen and inorganic salts, esp calcium phosphate, interspersed with canals and small holesRelated adjectives: osseous, osteal
  3. something consisting of bone or a bonelike substance
  4. (plural) the human skeleton or bodythey laid his bones to rest; come and rest your bones
  5. a thin strip of whalebone, light metal, plastic, etc, used to stiffen corsets and brassieres
  6. (plural) the essentials (esp in the phrase the bare bones)to explain the bones of a situation
  7. (plural) dice
  8. (plural) an informal nickname for a doctor
  9. close to the bone or near the bone
    1. risqué or indecenthis jokes are rather close to the bone
    2. in poverty; destitute
  10. feel in one’s bones to have an intuition of
  11. have a bone to pick to have grounds for a quarrel
  12. make no bones about
    1. to be direct and candid about
    2. to have no scruples about
  13. point the bone (often foll by at) Australian
    1. to wish bad luck (on)
    2. to threaten to bring about the downfall (of)

verb (mainly tr)

  1. to remove the bones from (meat for cooking, etc)
  2. to stiffen (a corset, etc) by inserting bones
  3. to fertilize with bone meal
  4. taboo, slang to have sexual intercourse with
  5. British a slang word for steal

Old English ban “bone, tusk,” from Proto-Germanic *bainam (cf. Old Frisian ben, Old Norse bein, Danish ben, German Bein). No cognates outside Germanic (the common PIE root is *os-; see osseous); the Norse, Dutch, and German cognates also mean “shank of the leg,” and this is the main meaning in Modern German, but English never seems to have had this sense.


especially in bone up “study,” 1880s student slang, probably from “Bohn’s Classical Library,” a popular series in higher education published by German-born English publisher Henry George Bohn (1796-1884) as part of a broad series of “libraries” he issued from 1846, totaling 766 volumes, continued after 1864 by G. Bell & Sons.


  1. The dense, semirigid, porous, calcified connective tissue forming the major portion of the skeleton of most vertebrates, consisting of a dense organic matrix and an inorganic, mineral component.
  2. Any of the more than 200 anatomically distinct structures making up the human skeleton.
  3. A piece of bone.

  1. The hard, dense, calcified tissue that forms the skeleton of most vertebrates, consisting of a matrix made up of collagen fibers and mineral salts. There are two main types of bone structure: compact, which is solid and hard, and cancellous, which is spongy in appearance. Bone serves as a framework for the attachment of muscles and protects vital organs, such as the brain, heart, and lungs. See more at osteoblast osteocyte.
  2. Any of the structures made of bone that constitute a skeleton, such as the femur. The human skeleton consists of 206 bones.

In addition to the idioms beginning with bone

  • bone of contention
  • bone to pick, have a
  • bone up

also see:

  • bare bones
  • chilled to the bone
  • cut to the bone
  • feel in one’s bones
  • funny bone
  • make no bones about
  • pull a boner
  • roll the bones
  • skin and bones
  • work one’s fingers to the bone
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