from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To change into bone; become bony.
  • intransitive v. To become set in a rigidly conventional pattern: "The central ideas of liberalism have ossified” ( Jeffrey Hart).
  • transitive v. To convert (a membrane or cartilage, for example) into bone.
  • transitive v. To mold into a rigidly conventional pattern.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To transform (or cause to transform) from a softer animal substance into bone; particularly the processes of growth in humans and animals.
  • v. To become (or cause to become) inflexible and rigid in habits or opinions.
  • v. To grow (or cause to grow) formulaic and permanent.
  • v. To calcify.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To become bone; to change from a soft tissue to a hard bony tissue.
  • transitive v. To form into bone; to change from a soft animal substance into bone, as by the deposition of lime salts.
  • transitive v. To harden.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make or form bone in or of; cause ossification in or of; convert into bone, as membrane or cartilage; harden like bone; render osseous.
  • To become bone; undergo ossification; change or be changed from soft tissue to bone.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. make rigid and set into a conventional pattern
  • v. cause to become hard and bony
  • v. become bony


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Latin os, oss-, bone; see ost- in Indo-European roots + -fy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin os, ossis ("bone") + -ify


  • The party is both fanatical and well-informed, and thus unlikely either to "ossify" or "grow soft" and collapse.


  • At the same time, sure, "ossify" isn't exactly common parlance in most of our everyday exchanges, but it's not like it's a totally insane archaic thing that I dredged out of the OED, nor is Beau Geste this weird name that only the deepest scholars of French Algeria would know about (the movie was pretty big in its time ...).

    Filter Magazine

  • Woody Allen, like i say, i think of him in similar ways–went from funny-angry to just angry, real exploitive jerk in many ways, and god knows he logged in enough hours on the psych’s couch. i dunno. i think maybe it is a special hazard for people who become famous, but who knows–some people just kind of ossify at a certain point.

    Harlan Ellison Gropes Connie Willis

  • Once you ossify guidelines into regulations governing payment, you run a great risk of freezing health care advancement.

    He's Not an Economist, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • This is the static prodigy phenomenon, where early gains ossify into a state of frowning and manfully borne stasis, a condition known in sports science as Huddlestone's Mooch.

    Enjoying the fleeting thrill of fragile prodigies is a national habit | Barney Ronay

  • National insurance was never meant to be indistinguishable from tax; it was meant to be a system of insurance in which all paid in to guard against life's major risks – unemployment, disability and old age – but then allowed to ossify.

    We deserve a fair society, but it won't be created by a vendetta against the poor

  • It should make interesting reading for those who think that the sole purpose of an Academy is to ossify a language and prevent any change.

    9 posts from October 2009

  • Both Dewey and Eliot are suggesting that without experiment in art and literature, the "supervention of novelty," the great works of the past merely ossify into a "tradition" that no longer inspires artists and writers to, in effect, outdo the "existing monuments," to bring those monuments into active communication with the present.

    John Dewey's *Art as Experience*

  • Without experiment (without what in some ways could be called "progress" in the arts), art would ossify into dead monuments we are to extoll for their putative greatness but that would not provoke the kind of experiential engagement Dewey thinks is art's ultimate validation.

    John Dewey's *Art as Experience*

  • It's reminiscent of early 50 Cent, both in its production and in that Giggs 'vocal limitations are strengths and flaws: he raps at one pace only, a slow drawl that can either intensify or just ossify things.

    Giggs: Let Em Ave It


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