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As the most lasting parts of the body, bones are traditionally used for ‘mortal remains’.

In proverbial usage, a bone is the type of something hard and dry.

Bones are traditionally used in enchantment or divination, and point the bone at means (of an Australian Aboriginal) cast a spell on someone so as to cause their sickness or death. The expression refers to an Aboriginal ritual, in which a bone is pointed at a victim. In southern Africa, to throw the bones at is to use divining bones (a set of carved dice or bones used by traditional healers in divination) to foretell the future or discover the source of a difficulty by studying the pattern they form when thrown on the ground.

a bone in her mouth water foaming before a ship's bows; the expression is recorded from the early 17th century.

bone of contention a subject or issue over which there is continuing disagreement; proverbially, a bone thrown between two dogs is the type of something which causes a quarrel.

close to (or near) the bone (of a remark) penetrating and accurate to the point of causing discomfort; (of a joke or story) likely to cause offence because near the limit of decency.

make no bones about something have no hesitation in stating or dealing with something, however unpleasant, awkward, or distasteful it is. The obsolete expression find bones in suggests how the meaning of this could have evolved: finding bones in meat or soup presents a difficulty in consuming it, but making no bones means that impediments are either ignored or overcome.

near the bone variant form of close to the bone above.

See also a dog that will fetch a bone, hard words break no bones, the nearer the bone, sticks and stones may break my bones, while two dogs are fighting for a bone.

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