Definition of skeletal in US English:



  • 1Relating to or functioning as a skeleton.

    ‘the skeletal remains of aquatic organisms’
    • ‘Thus, bone quality and skeletal fragility are among the hottest topics for basic scientists, clinical investigators, and clinicians.’
    • ‘No flesh was attached to the skeletal remains suggesting the body was exposed to the elements for at least two-months.’
    • ‘Several patients who underwent skeletal myoblast transfer experienced ventricular tachyarrhythmias within weeks of transplantation.’
    • ‘Premature fusion may be associated with cranial and often facial skeletal anomalies.’
    • ‘The disc covers 150 fetal anomalies, including head, skeletal, gastrointestinal and cardiac anomalies.’
    • ‘Police uncovered the skeletal remains of a body in a shallow grave in the garden of an upmarket house in Gonubie yesterday.’
    • ‘Recent advances in human genetics have increased our understanding of the ways particular gene perturbations produce cranial skeletal malformations.’
    • ‘What factors are involved in building and maintaining skeletal health throughout life?’
    • ‘This is a book of case studies on how skeletal analysis is applied to human and animal remains in medicolegal cases.’
    • ‘A skeletal survey found no lytic bone lesions at this time.’
    • ‘This skull was considered to be the oldest human skeletal remains found in the region.’
    • ‘A 57-year-old woman underwent a combined skeletal and metabolic survey of her total body bone mass to establish the extent of osteoporosis.’
    • ‘How these mutations lead to the skeletal phenotype is not known.’
    1. 1.1 Very thin; emaciated.
      ‘a small, skeletal boy clothed in rags’
      • ‘His face was small and thin, his skin stretched around skeletal features.’
      • ‘Her face, skeletal from an apparent lack of food, curves thin lips into a wry grin.’
      • ‘She props up her skeletal frame, wizened beyond her 48 years, with spindly arms wrapped around a twisted cane.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was a little taller than Diana, thin, but not skeletal.’
      • ‘He is skeletal and scrawny with his minuscule bones poking through his clothes.’
      • ‘He was already walking a fine line between thin and skeletal when we met, but now he just looks ill.’
      • ‘She was dressed in her uniform, a thin green polo shirt that swamped her skeletal frame and a pair of baggy black trousers.’
      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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    2. 1.2 Existing only in outline or as a framework of something.
      ‘a skeletal plot for a novel’
      ‘the skeletal leaves of long-faded roses’
      • ‘The plot, as it stands, is only the skeletal outline of a movie.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Details of how the Pond of Safety Forest will be managed are still being hammered into place, but a skeletal framework is clear.’
      • ‘As you can imagine, at the moment, all I have is a skeletal framework of information regarding the aforementioned incident.’
      • ‘While most scholars of southern history and politics know the skeletal outlines of this story, Frederickson explains it in detail.’
      • ‘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.’
      lacking in detail, incomplete, outline, inadequate, insufficient, fragmentary, sketchy, patchy, bitty, scrappy, broad-brush, superficial, perfunctory
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