Definition of skeletal in English:


Pronunciation /skəˈliːt(ə)l//ˈskɛlɪt(ə)l/


  • 1Relating to or functioning as a skeleton.

    ‘the skeletal remains of aquatic organisms’
    • ‘Several patients who underwent skeletal myoblast transfer experienced ventricular tachyarrhythmias within weeks of transplantation.’
    • ‘What factors are involved in building and maintaining skeletal health throughout life?’
    • ‘A 57-year-old woman underwent a combined skeletal and metabolic survey of her total body bone mass to establish the extent of osteoporosis.’
    • ‘The disc covers 150 fetal anomalies, including head, skeletal, gastrointestinal and cardiac anomalies.’
    • ‘No flesh was attached to the skeletal remains suggesting the body was exposed to the elements for at least two-months.’
    • ‘Recent advances in human genetics have increased our understanding of the ways particular gene perturbations produce cranial skeletal malformations.’
    • ‘This skull was considered to be the oldest human skeletal remains found in the region.’
    • ‘Thus, bone quality and skeletal fragility are among the hottest topics for basic scientists, clinical investigators, and clinicians.’
    • ‘A skeletal survey found no lytic bone lesions at this time.’
    • ‘Premature fusion may be associated with cranial and often facial skeletal anomalies.’
    • ‘This is a book of case studies on how skeletal analysis is applied to human and animal remains in medicolegal cases.’
    • ‘Police uncovered the skeletal remains of a body in a shallow grave in the garden of an upmarket house in Gonubie yesterday.’
    • ‘How these mutations lead to the skeletal phenotype is not known.’
    1. 1.1 Very thin; emaciated.
      ‘a small, skeletal boy clothed in rags’
      • ‘An anorexic who for years has been doing a ‘good job’ at being anorexic is hiding in plain sight all the time. She's thin, but not skeletal.’
      • ‘His face was small and thin, his skin stretched around skeletal features.’
      • ‘She was dressed in her uniform, a thin green polo shirt that swamped her skeletal frame and a pair of baggy black trousers.’
      • ‘Her face, skeletal from an apparent lack of food, curves thin lips into a wry grin.’
      • ‘He was a little taller than Diana, thin, but not skeletal.’
      • ‘He is skeletal and scrawny with his minuscule bones poking through his clothes.’
      • ‘She props up her skeletal frame, wizened beyond her 48 years, with spindly arms wrapped around a twisted cane.’
      • ‘He was already walking a fine line between thin and skeletal when we met, but now he just looks ill.’
      emaciated, very thin, as thin as a rake, cadaverous, skin-and-bones, hollow-cheeked, scrawny, scraggy, skinny, size-zero, bony, angular, stick-like, raw-boned, lantern-jawed, gaunt, haggard, wasted
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  • 2Existing only in outline or as a framework of something.

    ‘a skeletal plot for a novel’
    • ‘While most scholars of southern history and politics know the skeletal outlines of this story, Frederickson explains it in detail.’
    • ‘Details of how the Pond of Safety Forest will be managed are still being hammered into place, but a skeletal framework is clear.’
    • ‘The plot, as it stands, is only the skeletal outline of a movie.’
    • ‘Unlike American Pie, which actually had a story, this picture can boast little more than a skeletal plot that serves as the device by which a series of sketches can be presented.’
    • ‘As you can imagine, at the moment, all I have is a skeletal framework of information regarding the aforementioned incident.’
    • ‘There's much more to it than that of course, but that skeletal outline of the process is enough to understand why it's so hard to add value to email.’
    lacking in detail, incomplete, outline, inadequate, insufficient, fragmentary, sketchy, patchy, bitty, scrappy, broad-brush, superficial, perfunctory
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