Definition of autopsy in English:


Pronunciation /ɔːˈtɒpsi//ˈɔːtɒpsi/


  • A post-mortem examination to discover the cause of death or the extent of disease.

    ‘a Home Office pathologist carried out the autopsy’
    mass noun ‘on autopsy it was established that he had suffered from a rare brain condition’
    • ‘Medical examiners frequently perform autopsies if a death is deemed suspicious or unexplained.’
    • ‘But there are virtually no autopsies of these deaths.’
    • ‘About 18% of autopsies reveal potentially treatable contributing factors to death.’
    • ‘A spokesman for the Foreign Office said it was thought his death was from natural causes and an autopsy would be carried out.’
    • ‘The autopsy found that death was due to cerebral and pulmonary oedema.’
    • ‘There are two basic kinds of autopsy: the forensic autopsy and the medical autopsy.’
    • ‘The autopsy has contributed to the discovery of new or unrecognized diseases and will continue to do so.’
    • ‘An autopsy into his death revealed the cyclist suffered a heart attack following severe swelling of the heart and brain.’
    • ‘They reviewed the verbal autopsies and determined the cause of death for the study.’
    • ‘The county coroner carried out an autopsy and his verdict on the cause of death was given in January of this year.’
    • ‘Medical Examiners are pathologists who have special training in death investigation and legal autopsies.’
    • ‘He rejected speculation that a way of killing that could not be detected in an autopsy had already been discovered.’
    • ‘All fatal cases have been confirmed by medical records, autopsy report, or death certificate.’
    • ‘Medical examiners spent the night doing autopsies to determine if the deaths were criminal or accidental.’
    • ‘They visit scenes of death and attend autopsies, take witness statements and liaise between traumatised relatives, police, solicitors and doctors.’
    • ‘Police have not released the cause of death although an autopsy was completed Wednesday.’
    • ‘All autopsies were carried out by pathologists at the Health Sciences Authority.’
    • ‘He developed his life-long dedication to tuberculosis while doing autopsies as a medical student.’
    • ‘To discuss the events at the death scene and closely examine the autopsy report is distressing to the families.’
    • ‘This was nearly two months after the autopsies ruled the deaths to be ‘homicides’.’
    post-mortem, pm, necropsy
    View synonyms


  • Perform an autopsy on (a body or organ)

    ‘the animal must be autopsied as soon as possible’
    ‘an autopsied brain’
    • ‘The patients had died and were autopsied at the Medical Center of Louisiana in New Orleans.’
    • ‘After his death, they autopsied his brain to find exactly what part of the brain had been damaged.’
    • ‘Like all his colleagues, he autopsied every patient who died on his ward.’
    • ‘The central idea of his work came to him as he autopsied the body of a notorious Italian criminal.’
    • ‘The researchers autopsied 302 people who had died suddenly of heart attacks, auto accidents, or other misfortunes.’
    • ‘All patients were autopsied at a tertiary care medical center during the years 1985-1997.’
    • ‘At autopsy the adrenal glands often show hemorrhagic necrosis, an example of which is seen here.’
    • ‘Attempts were made to surreptitiously dispose of the corpse, and some evidence was destroyed - but the body was eventually autopsied, and the death labelled a homicide.’
    • ‘When his body was autopsied he had several broken bones and possible internal injuries.’
    • ‘After external inspection, each animal was autopsied.’
    • ‘And when you're murdered in Dallas County, the law is that you're autopsied in Dallas County.’
    • ‘The clinical diagnosis of this syndrome is challenging, and the diagnosis is limited to patients who have been autopsied.’
    • ‘Larvae that died in this week were held for at least two additional days to allow for the emergence of parasitoids, and then were autopsied under a light microscope to check for pathogens.’
    • ‘But maybe if they were properly autopsied, we might learn that environmental pollutants did them in.’
    • ‘Only about 66% of suspected cases are autopsied each year.’
    • ‘These bodies were autopsied secretly.’


Mid 17th century (in the sense ‘personal observation’): from French autopsie or modern Latin autopsia, from Greek, from autoptēs ‘eyewitness’, from autos ‘self’ + optos ‘seen’.