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


[with object]
  • Perform an autopsy on (a body or organ)

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


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’.