Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
1. noun The essential and most elementary parts of something; a general outline or summary. Please don't go through each line item in the budget—just give me the bare bones.
2. adjective Minimally furnished or adorned. The apartment is pretty bare bones, but rent is cheap, and I don't spend much time there, so I don't mind.
Cliché limited; stripped down; lacking refinements or extras. This one is the bare-bones model. It has no accessories at all.
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]
the bare bones
COMMON The bare bones of something are its most basic parts or details. We worked out the bare bones of a deal. We needed to strip the flat down to its bare bones. It was a terrific engineering and architectural challenge. Note: You can use bare-bones before a noun. The mayor will have to slash the city's already bare-bones budget.