[Old English bān = Old Frisian, Old Saxon ben (Middle Dutch, Low German been), Old High German, German bein, Old Norse bein, from Germanic.]
1(a) Any of the pieces of hard tissue that make up the skeleton of a vertebrate animal,
and consist largely of calcium phosphate or carbonate in a matrix of collagen fibres. OE
1(b) (Part of) a bone to which some meat adheres, providing possible sustenance. LME
1(c) specifically A bone used by Australian Aborigines in spells to cause death or sickness. L19
2 In plural. The skeleton; the body; the mortal remains; figurative the essential framework of anything. OE
3 The bony structure of the body; the body's hard, solid, or essential part. OE
4 The material or tissue of the bones; any similar animal substance, as ivory, dentine, etc. OE
5(a) An article originally or usually made from bone or ivory, especially a domino, (in plural) dice, castanets. LME
5(b) specifically A strip of whalebone or other stiffening material in a corset etc. L16
6 A dollar. US slang. L19
|A bone die|
(photo by Kolby)
Having "a bone to pick with someone" is an old idiom that probably relates to a dog chewing on a bone, picking it clean of every last morsel of flesh, analogous to someone who wants to pick over every last detail of whatever it is that you've done to upset them. To "make no bones" means to make no apology or excuses for something, to state your position in a forthright and unhesitating manner. The origin of this is quite obscure, but likely derives from the old saying "to find no bones in something", meaning that, as you found no bones in your food, you have no problem with it whatsoever (standards were clearly lower in times past).
Other bony expressions that require less explanation include having a bone in one's leg (giving a reason for your laziness and being too bone idle to think of a good one), to make old bones (live to an old age), to have a bone of contention (a particularly sticky issue between two parties) and to work one's fingers to the bone (to work very hard), all of which makes English a rather bony language.
|The internal structure of bone|
(photo by Sam Cox)
Are there any different ones in your language?
Do please share and leave your most bone-headed comments below.