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Bare bones

the irreducible minimum; the most essential components:
Reduce this report to its bare bones. There is nothing left of the town but the bare bones—a couple of stores, a church, and a few houses.
Contemporary Examples

Inmates eat their two daily meals and shower in bare bones, but air-cooled, indoor facilities.
The Immigrant Prison Nightmare Terry Greene Sterling April 29, 2010

The bare bones of an already-anemic effort to fight the epidemic in West Africa that is threatening to destroy the entire region.
Doctors Without Borders Hits Ebola Breaking Point Abby Haglage, Kent Sepkowitz October 20, 2014

He was getting only the bare bones, none of the rich details that make a book sing.
The Night Vince Lombardi Lay Awake Brooding Over a 49-0 Win W.C. Heinz January 24, 2014

Maybe, just maybe he’d be able to get the message across if he stripped it down to its bare bones.
Are Politicians Too Dumb to Understand the Lyrics to ‘Born in the USA’? Parker Molloy November 5, 2014

As TechCrunch pointed out, the brilliance in its bare bones appeal could reach a worth of one billion dollars.
The Zen of Yo Dale Eisinger August 1, 2014

Historical Examples

And suddenly she uncovered her face—and what he beheld was a bare grinning skull set fast to the bare bones of a skeleton!
Legends of the City of Mexico Thomas A. Janvier

The rest of the bare bones of the story I have already told you.
Jaffery William J. Locke

A heavy blast of wind opened the branches and released Manabozho, who found that the wolves had left nothing but the bare bones.
The Indian Fairy Book Cornelius Mathews

The big butter-nut-tree that stood up high and strong over the pump rattled its twigs in the air, as bare bones might rattle.
The Mermaid Lily Dougall

Don’t despair of reforming any man till you see the grass growing over his bare bones.
The Romance of a Christmas Card Kate Douglas Wiggin

The mere essentials or plain, unadorned framework of something, as in This outline gives just the bare bones of the story; details will come later. This phrase transfers the naked skeleton of a body to figurative use. [ c. 1900 ]


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  • Bareboned

    lean or spare, as a person. emaciated; gaunt: bareboned victims of a terrible famine.

  • Bare down

    to hold up; support: to bear the weight of the roof. to hold or remain firm under (a load): The roof will not bear the strain of his weight. to bring forth (young); give birth to: to bear a child. to produce by natural growth: a tree that bears fruit. to hold up under; be […]

  • Barefaced

    with the face uncovered. shameless; impudent; audacious: a barefaced lie. without concealment or disguise; boldly open: a barefaced approach. Contemporary Examples He took the barefaced girl under his wing, taught her new tricks—and then exploited her trust in him. Aurora Snow Reviews ‘Lovelace’ Aurora Snow August 8, 2013 Historical Examples Miss Ophelia was so indignant […]

  • Barefoot

    Also, barefooted. with the feet bare: a barefoot boy; to walk barefoot. Carpentry. (of a post or stud) secured to a sill or the like without mortising. Contemporary Examples When we met, she was barefoot and dressed in ripped Levis and a T-shirt. How Research into Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Turned into an Ugly Fight Casey […]

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