a. The dense, semirigid, porous, calcified connective tissue forming the major portion of the skeleton of most vertebrates. It consists of a dense organic matrix and an inorganic, mineral component.
b. Any of numerous anatomically distinct structures making up the skeleton of a vertebrate animal. There are more than 200 different bones in the human body.
c. A piece of bone.
a. The skeleton.
b. The body: These old bones don't do much dancing anymore.
c. Mortal remains: His bones are buried up on the hill.
3. An animal structure or material, such as ivory, resembling bone.
4. Something made of bone or of material resembling bone, especially:
a. A piece of whalebone or similar material used as a corset stay.
b. bones Informal Dice.
5. bones The fundamental plan or design, as of the plot of a book.
a. bones Flat clappers made of bone or wood originally used by the end man in a minstrel show.
b. Bones (used with a sing. verb) The end man in a minstrel show.
7. Vulgar Slang The penis.
v. boned, bon·ing, bones
1. To remove the bones from: bone a fish.
2. To stiffen (a piece of clothing) with stays, as of whalebone.
3. Vulgar Slang To have sexual intercourse with. Used especially of a man.
Vulgar Slang To have sexual intercourse.
Informal To study, often in preparation for an anticipated event: boned up for the final exam.
bone of contention
The subject of a dispute.
bone to pick
Grounds for a complaint or dispute.
in (one's) bones
In one's innermost feelings: knew in my bones that I was wrong.
to the bone
To an extreme degree: was chilled to the bone; cut the budget to the bone.
[Middle English bon, from Old English bān.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.