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.’
    • ‘The disc covers 150 fetal anomalies, including head, skeletal, gastrointestinal and cardiac anomalies.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Police uncovered the skeletal remains of a body in a shallow grave in the garden of an upmarket house in Gonubie yesterday.’
    • ‘This skull was considered to be the oldest human skeletal remains found in the region.’
    • ‘Recent advances in human genetics have increased our understanding of the ways particular gene perturbations produce cranial skeletal malformations.’
    • ‘No flesh was attached to the skeletal remains suggesting the body was exposed to the elements for at least two-months.’
    • ‘What factors are involved in building and maintaining skeletal health throughout life?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A skeletal survey found no lytic bone lesions at this time.’
    • ‘Several patients who underwent skeletal myoblast transfer experienced ventricular tachyarrhythmias within weeks of transplantation.’
    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.’
      • ‘She was dressed in her uniform, a thin green polo shirt that swamped her skeletal frame and a pair of baggy black trousers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was already walking a fine line between thin and skeletal when we met, but now he just looks ill.’
      • ‘She props up her skeletal frame, wizened beyond her 48 years, with spindly arms wrapped around a twisted cane.’
      • ‘He is skeletal and scrawny with his minuscule bones poking through his clothes.’
      • ‘He was a little taller than Diana, thin, but not skeletal.’
      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.’
      • ‘As you can imagine, at the moment, all I have is a skeletal framework of information regarding the aforementioned incident.’
      • ‘Details of how the Pond of Safety Forest will be managed are still being hammered into place, but a skeletal framework is clear.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘While most scholars of southern history and politics know the skeletal outlines of this story, Frederickson explains it in detail.’
      lacking in detail, incomplete, outline, inadequate, insufficient, fragmentary, sketchy, patchy, bitty, scrappy, broad-brush, superficial, perfunctory
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