1 a a hard internal or external framework of bones, cartilage, shell, woody fibre, etc., supporting or containing the body of an animal or plant. b the dried bones of a human being or other animal fastened together in the same relative positions as in life.
2 the supporting framework or structure or essential part of a thing.
3 a very thin or emaciated person or animal.
4 the remaining part of anything after its life or usefulness is gone.
5 an outline sketch, an epitome or abstract.
6 (attrib.) having only the essential or minimum number of persons, parts, etc. (skeleton plan; skeleton staff).
Phrases and idioms:
skeleton at the feast something that spoils one's pleasure; an intrusive worry. skeleton in the cupboard (US closet) a discreditable or embarrassing fact kept secret. skeleton key a key designed to fit many locks by having the interior of the bit hollowed.
skeletal adj. skeletally adv. skeletonize v.tr. (also -ise).
Etymology: mod.L f. Gk, neut. of skeletos dried-up f. skello dry up
Useful english dictionary. 2012.