skeleton » skeletal

Chiefly in:   skeletal staff

Classification: English – questionable

Spotted in the wild:

  • “You”ve been here a long time,” I was told. “Have we ever closed?” Before I could answer, there was this: “When the electricity went out. We had a skeletal staff.” ()

From a posting to ADS-L by Jim Landau on 23 January 2005:

While in the Bronx Help Center on Friday, I brought up the topic of a storm. [And got the response above.]

MWCD10 has “skeletal” as meaning “…resembling a skeleton” so presumably the staff was stranded for days with no food and when rescued were down to skin and bones.


Possibly just a (natural) extension of the meaning of “skeletal” to cover the same metaphorical territory as “skeleton” in “skeleton staff”. Or possibly a Fay-Cutler malapropism.

| link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/03/16 |

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