bare bones

plural noun
the irreducible minimum; the most essential components: Reduce this report to its bare bones. There is nothing left of the town but the bare bones—a couple of stores, a church, and a few houses.


bare-bones, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

bare bones

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 American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
It is the bare bones of quantum mechanics that have proved to be consistent
  with what is presently known of the subatomic world.
His tax reform plan is so bare bones that judging its credibility is almost
There are no star professors, little research, and the administrative pool is
  bare bones.
Most corpses decayed normally, leaving bare bones as the only proof of lives
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