Definition of ossify in US English:


verbossifies, ossifying, ossified

[no object]
  • 1Turn into bone or bony tissue.

    ‘these tracheal cartilages may ossify’
    • ‘The postcranial skeleton, and especially the vertebrae, carpals and tarsals, were very slow to ossify.’
    • ‘In most fossil coelacanths, the swimbladder appears to be ossified and, consequently, these fishes were probably confined to shallow water.’
    • ‘In later years some of these joints completely ossify (are converted to solid bone material).’
    • ‘Other techniques can be used for older bodies, such as the amount of cartilage that has ossified or turned into bone-like material and how worn the teeth are.’
    • ‘Subungual exostosis begins as a reactive fibrous growth that develops cartilage and ultimately ossifies.’
    • ‘Fossilized embryos are rarely discovered, because their bones only begin to ossify late in development.’
    • ‘The flat bones ossify directly from such fibrous tissue rather than from intermediary cartilage.’
    • ‘The joint between the incus and stapes is likewise a cartilagenous joint, with a tendency to ossify in older humans.’
    • ‘In humans, the connection ossifies during early adulthood.’
    • ‘Growth of a bone ceases when the growth plate ossifies, and this occurs at different times for different bones.’
    turn into bone, become bony, harden, solidify, stiffen, rigidify, petrify, fossilize
    View synonyms
  • 2often as adjective ossifiedCease developing; be stagnant or rigid.

    ‘ossified political institutions’
    • ‘Tradition for me comes from establishing a dialogue with something rather than blindly following an age old or ossified system.’
    • ‘Because of deep specialization, the scientific enterprise has a built-in tendency to ossify.’
    • ‘How this imaginative and commercially successful development was allowed to stand still, indeed to ossify, in the hands of its originator is one of the most remarkable stories of industrial history.’
    • ‘The drawing style has completely ossified, too.’
    • ‘It is capable of continuous creativity rather than, like other civilizations, ossifying and losing the capacity of creative adjustment to new challenges.’
    • ‘If we did this, our cities would stand still, ossify and die.’
    • ‘He said that initially he had an aversion to opera, seeing it as a somewhat ossified form of music.’
    • ‘By the 1980s, political life was suffocating and the political system had ossified.’
    • ‘Bodies like the Property Services Agency, the Common Services Agency and others, which were seen as out-dated and ossified, were gradually cleared out and then privatised.’
    • ‘He goes on to insist he believes in a meritocracy and that achieving this is ‘an economic necessity’, adding: ‘Economies that do not bring out the best in people will ossify and fall behind’.’
    • ‘Too much debate on the Left is about defending ossified thought patterns and structures which have actually outlived their usefulness.’
    • ‘In addition, the agricultural protectionism of the European Union, ossified in the economic miasma of the Common Agricultural Policy, needs to be scrapped.’
    • ‘Now, she is qualified to join forces and she can be pacified by this inane and ossified ideology.’
    • ‘One of my favorite postelection maps showed the United States divided along the traditional, and increasingly ossified, red and blue state lines.’
    • ‘As two business scholars observed, ‘Yesterday's winning formula ossifies into today's conventional wisdom before petrifying into tomorrow's tablets of stone.’’
    • ‘I have a less ossified view of culture, one that sees it as not fixed in a person's or nation's history, but as a fluid, ongoing process.’
    • ‘The problem with union rights requiring judges and courts to uphold them is that they ossify and become the target of lawyers and others who wish to destroy them.’
    • ‘The danger for any new movement is that it too ossifies and becomes another orthodoxy.’
    • ‘The baron ought to be repellent, but he quickly gathers the audience on his side, as an unlikely agent for freedom in a repressive, ossified society.’
    • ‘A really revolutionary programme can't just be preserved, it must develop through tackling new realities, otherwise it becomes ossified and sterile.’
    become inflexible, become rigid, fossilize, harden, rigidify, stagnate, become obdurate, become unyielding, become unprogressive, cease developing
    View synonyms


Early 18th century: from French ossifier, from Latin os, oss- ‘bone’.